Mama’s Punjabi Recipes — Arbi Ajwain Wali (Sauted Eddoe Root with Carom Seeds)


Arbi is another root vegetable that Punjabis love to eat in many ways: as a snack or as a sauteed or curry dish. This dish cooked with ajwain (bishop’s weed, carom seeds, ajowan caraway) is typically old-style Punjabi and the spice coats the arbi to give it a unique taste that is not found in many other recipes.

Ajwain is a uniquely Indian spice that is especially good for the digestion. In case of stomach ache or indigestion, just take a tablespoon of ajwain with a pinch of salt (to cut the spice’s bitterness) and swallow with a glass of water. In the winter time, ajwain is often used to coat crushed almonds and gur (brick molasses) with butter to make a brittle that is tasty and gives a boost of warmth and energy.

Ajwain is a seed that smells almost exactly like thyme but is more aromatic, slightly bitter and pungent and stronger in taste. A small amount can dominate the flavor of a dish. Arbi (eddoe) is closely related to the taro root but is smaller and has an acrid taste that requires careful cooking. It can be grown in poorer soils and drier climates than the taro root.

This dish is not made with the usual ingredients used in Indian dishes. Do not use pyaaz (onions), adrak (ginger) or haldi (turmeric) as it conflicts with and takes away from the taste of the ajawain.



•  1 kg arbi (small to medium eddoe root)

•  2 tablespoon tael (vegetable  or olive oil)

•  1 teaspoon ajwain (bishop’s weed or carom seeds)

•  1 teaspoon amchoor (dry mango powder)

•  Spices (to taste): namak (salt),        mirch (red pepper), garam masala 


1. Wash the arbi then place it in a pot and boil. Remove when still hard but not too tender.

2.    Peel the arbi and cut into small pieces.

3.   In a kadai (wok) or skillet, heat the oil and throw in the ajwain and spices. Turn the heat down to extreme low so as not to burn the spices and stir to mix thoroughly.

4.  Throw in the cut arbi into the spices and mix to coat. Cover and cook for 10 minutes then turn off the heat. The final dish should be just a little moist.

5.    Some people enjoy this dish with a slight crunch. To do so, cut into large slices and after it is cooked, add a little more oil to let the arbi cook to crisp the chips uncovered a little longer over low heat; then serve dry like chips as a snack.

mamas recipe inside3Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.