Ajwain seeds (carom seeds) have a bitter and pungent taste, with a flavor similar to anise and oregano. They smell almost exactly like thyme, but is more aromatic and less subtle in taste, as well as slightly bitter and pungent. Even a small number of fruits tends to dominate the flavor of a dish. The grayish-green seeds are striped and curved (similar to cumin seeds in appearance), often with a fine silk stalk attached.
Ajwain is used as medicinal plant in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for stomach disorders such as indigestion and flatulence. In fact, the active principles in the ajwain may help increase the digestive function of the intestinal tract through facilitating the release of gut juices (gastro-intestinal secretions). Also, thymol, the essential oil obtained from ajwain has local anesthetic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.
They are commonly dry-roasted or fried in ghee. This allows the spice to develop a more subtle and complex aroma. In Indian cuisine, it is often part of a chaunk, a mixture of spices fried in oil or butter, which is used to flavor lentil dishes. Ajwain also has a particular affinity to starchy foods like savoury pastries and breads, especially parathas. Snacks like Bombay mix and potato balls get an extra kick from ajwain. It is also good with green beans and root vegetables.
Here is a recipe of Ajwain Paneer (cheese).