Indian spices

Welcome back to the Desi Turka Blogs! In this blog, you will find India’s that spice which is lesser-known but is one of the largest producers in India. To name it, here are a few hints. It is a seed that is black and is usually mistaken for black sesame seeds or black cumin.

Well, you might have guessed it right! It is Nigella Seeds. Though this spice is known by many names, including black cumin or black sesame seeds (as mentioned earlier, some know them by this name), black caraway, and black onion seeds (contrary to its name, this does not belong to the onion family) in India, it is famous under the name Kalonji. These seeds are extracted from the seed pod of the nigella flower which is also known as the ‘love-in-a-mist’ flower. The name comes from the delicate and exquisite pastel colors and feathery leaves of these blossoms.

Let’s learn more together!

Like most spices, nigella seeds/kalonji are used in a variety of Indian recipes. However, this spice is less known because of its slightly bitter taste. With a smoky undertone of black pepper, these seeds have a robust, slightly bitter allium flavor. These seeds are more triangular than oval, which makes them stand out from other similar seeds.

In India, these seeds are mostly used in Bengali cuisine. They are roasted in hot and a heavy pan to give more aroma and flavor to the dish and are used as a topping for the flatbread (in India it is called naan), a Bengali spice mix of five spices (called ‘PaanchPhoron’), vegetable curries, pickles, cookies, and biscuits. Apart from Indian culture, it is also used in Turkish, Armenian, and Middle-Eastern cultures as a topping for bread. Also, the oil extracted from these seeds is used in a few recipes.

Non-Culinary uses

These seeds are miracle seeds with many health benefits which no one talks about. These seeds are traditionally used in medicines. Nigella sativa has long been used to treat a wide range of ailments, diseases, and conditions affecting the respiratory system, digestive tract, kidney and liver function, cardiovascular system, and immunological system, as well as for overall well-being. These seeds are also used to extract oil. Because of their restorative and therapeutic properties, they are also known as “seeds of blessings.” However, it is seen that this under-rated spice is much beneficial for people around the globe.

In Canada, restaurants that have Indian cuisine on their menu might use these seeds in their recipes. Also, many love Nigella Sativa flavored biscuits and cookies which you can find online or at near superstores. The raw seeds are also easily available in any Indian, Asian or Middle-Eastern grocery store, or online.

For extra knowledge, these seeds have long edible durability but these fade their flavor a little over time when compared with fresh seeds, though these seeds can be used for over a year. Thus, to maintain them for a longer period, these seeds should be stored in a cool and dark place in an air-tight container.

So, enjoy the aroma of Kalonji (Nigella Sativa seeds) till the next blog!

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