Also Known As: Black Caraway Seeds, Charnushka, Kalonji, Blackseed, Black Onion Seed or Roman Coriander
Ingredients: Nigella Sativa Seeds
Taste and Aroma: Strong, slightly bitter, peppery and smoky.
Uses: Famous on Jewish Rye Bread, lamb, vegetables, liquors, baking, bread and ingredient of Garam Masala.
Substitutes: Black Sesame Seeds, Caraway Seeds, Caraway Powder or Cumin Seeds.
Fun Fact: Nigella Sativa is the subject of much promising scientific research.
Black Caraway (Nigella sativa) is known as "Nigella," "kalonji" in Hindi or "habbat al-barakah" in Arabic. It is also sometimes called "black seed" or "black cumin." Harvested from the southwest Asian flowering plant nigella sativa, the hearty, biennial plant is in the ranunculaceae family.
Black Caraway is an exceptionally old spice, with some speculating its origin dating back to the Stone Age. The plant is estimated to have been cultivated for at least 3,000 years, as it has been found in excavated sites from ancient Egypt, including Tutankhamun's tomb.
It is commonly used in Bengali cuisine and to top bread, especially naan and rye or studded in Middle Eastern string cheese for a hint of its robust flavor. It also plays a key role in the five-seed Indian and Bangladeshi spice blend panch phoron.
Beyond its culinary uses, it has been long regarded for medicinal properties, such as its ability to soothe the digestive system. The rich amounts of phytochemicals and amino acids have been speculated to contribute to lower cholesterol, improved vision and cancer prevention.