Nigella Sativa’s faint, barely-there fragrance may fool you into thinking that it’s a little black seed that doesn’t have a lot to offer. Think again. Once the warm, bitter shell is cracked, a host of flavors sprint out. There’s an herbaceous, oregano-like flavor, with an aroma that wafts up and lives near the roof of the mouth. That’s followed by a bit of a bite reminiscent of both black pepper and onion, that lingers long enough to be noticed but not so long that it’s unwelcome. Nigella fades into an almost walnut-like finish, as the oils from this fatty little seed release into the mouth. This seed is 36-38% inert oil, which creates the luxurious mouthfeel, and anywhere from 0.5-2.5% volatile oil, which drives the flavor.
The seeds of Nigella Sativa, a flower that’s a member of the buttercup family, may be the most regionally- or incorrectly-named spice in the world. A seed that has been cultivated since the time of ancient Egypt, it is known by multiple names. Nigella comes from the Latin word niger, or “black”. Nigella is also known by its Urdu name, kalonji, or its Russian name, charnushka, which means “little black seed”. Nigella Sativa kind of looks like a bunch of other small seeds, so it’s regularly mis-identified. It is also known as onion seed, though it bears no actual relation to onions, which are part of the lily family. It’s also regularly called black caraway or black cumin, which are members of the carrot family. You may see it called kala jeera, but that’s the Hindi name for black cumin—jeera means “cumin” in Hindi, kala means “black”. It is also occasionally called fennel flower, though it bears no relation to fennel plants which, again, are members of the carrot family. It’s called fennel flower because it has feathery leaves that resemble fennel fronds.
Tips From Our Kitchen
Nigella Sativa is most often used whole because grinding them tends to emphasize the seed’s bitter flavors. It is terrific sprinkled over poached eggs, or as a garnish for crostini topped with ricotta and fava beans. Whip feta with yogurt as a dip for fresh vegetables and top feta with nigella seeds. Scatter over homemade crackers or flatbreads before baking. Stir a tablespoonful into coconut rice, barley pilaf, or mango chutney. Mix into shredded potatoes and fry into latkes. Roast cauliflower with nigella and turmeric. Take a handful and toss over fennel and orange salad or Butternut Squash and Apple Soup.
Our Nigella Sativa is cultivated in India.
This product is certified kosher.
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Serving Size1 tsp
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*