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Nigella, Black Seed, Black Onion Seed, Kalonji or Charnuska are all the same spice. Nigella seeds are black seeds and have a nutty and slightly smoky, peppery flavour, together with a crunchy texture.

Nigella seeds do not have a strong smell, although a newly opened sack has a definite nutty and oily aroma. The flavour of nigella seeds is similarly nutty, but also have a mild peppery with a hint of oniony flavour. Nigella seeds benefit from dry roasting, accentuating their nutty flavours.

Nigella is popular in Indian cooking as a key ingredient in panch phoron. Nigella goes well in bread - sprinkled through naan breads and on Jewish rye bread in New York. Nigella is good set against sweet vegetables, e.g. carrots and parsnips, either on its own or in the Banglai spice mix, panch phoron.

Black Seed Oil is available, cold pressed from nigella. Black seed oil is used for health purposes rather than for cooking.

Further reading

  • Hemphill, I., Hemphill, K. (2014) The Spice and Herb Bible, Robert Rose. ISBN: 9780778804932.
  • Norman, J. (2015) Herbs & Spices: The Cook's Reference, DK Publishing. ISBN: 9781465435989.