Nigella/Black Caraway (Kalonji)
Black Caraway, or Nigella, is the distinctive, slightly bitter seed of an annual flowering plant native to Asia. Not to be confused with traditional caraway seed, this slightly bitter, pungent spice seed is its own unique species.
Ready to use. Add to taste.
Storage & handling
Store in cool, dry place.
Black caraway seeds.
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.
A classic chicken tagine gets its beautiful color from turmeric and saffron, its aromatics from a slew of fragrant spices and its subtle oregano-like notes from Nigella Seeds (or black caraway). This comforting dish is cooked low and slow to preserve both its flavors and the tenderness of the chicken.