Nigella seeds (Nigella sativa), also known as kalonji or black onion seeds, are tiny jet-black seeds with a peppery bitter taste, not too dissimilar to thyme and oregano, and a pleasantly crunchy texture. Traditionally they are used in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes – sprinkled on top of flatbreads and savoury pastries such as Indian naan and Turkish pide, alone or in combination with sesame or cumin. In Bengal, it is part of their local five spice mixture, panch phoron, along with mustard seeds, cumin, fennel and fenugreek. It is also used as a pickling spice or to flavour pilafs and curries. Toasting the seeds before use brings out their full flavour.
Purchase whole nigella seeds and store in an airtight container, where they can keep their flavour for 2 years.
Nigella seeds has therapeutic actions for a wide range of health conditions, including cardiovascular issues, allergies and cancer. The hint of thyme in the seed’s flavour comes from the phytochemical thymoquinone, a powerful antioxidant, and consuming nigella seeds on a regular basis has been proven to boost the immune system. Its anti-inflammatory action makes it useful for the relief of allergic reactions such as asthma and eczema.« Back to Glossary Index