One of the many wonderful things about herbs and spices is the natural beauty they possess when in their natural habitats. The Nigella sativa, for instance, is a plant found throughout Turkey, Syria, and parts of Iraq that produces gorgeous yet delicate flowers. These flowers range from light blue to white color and have tall skinny leaves.
These flowers contain pods that carry many seeds called “black cumin fruit” or nigella seeds, as we know them. Other names include black cumin, black onion seed, and black sesame seed. The list doesn’t stop there, though. Nigella seeds are also called “kalouji” in India and in the US also referred to as “charnushka."
How to Use Nigella Seed
Nigella seeds are found frequently in Indian, Middle Eastern, and North African cuisines. This means you can find these seeds in curries and lentil dishes alike. Nigella seeds also pair well with root vegetable dishes as well as squashes such as spiced butternut squash. Many Southern Asia meals can be found with Nigella sativa garnished on top or incorporated into their stir-fry.
A popular Bengal spice called “paanch poran” also includes these tasty seeds along with other spices like fenugreek, mustard seed, fennel seed, and cumin seeds. A common use of nigella is in bread and pastries. Often in India, they mix nigella seeds into their traditional naan bread. There are many other unique ways to use nigella seeds; for instance, garnish on a salad for an extra crunch.
The Flavor of Nigella Seeds
Nigella seeds have a strong aroma and taste that have notes of onion, oregano, and black pepper. This differs from person to person and some may taste a slight “nutty” flavor as well. These characteristics contribute to why savory dishes make a great pair with these savory seeds.
The Health Benefits of Nigella Seeds
Nigella sativa has many health benefits. They carry antioxidant properties helping with several inflammation issues, especially on the skin. Nigella seeds also have an antihistamine element and can aid in assisting with sore throats.
A mixture of ginger and nigella seed powder is said to help cure vomiting. There are several other gastrointestinal benefits as well. These health benefits are largely contributed to the thymoquinone oil that can be extracted from the seed. In fact, it is claimed that this oil may help reduce certain allergic reactions to food.