From the array of spices on offer, one of the lesser known ones is Nigella seeds. They are not very aromatic and have a slight savoury scent. These are popularly known as onion seeds owing to their toasted onion flavour and slight bitterness. Nigella seeds originate from the Mediterranean region but, are cultivated across southern Asia, North Africa, southern Europe, and the Middle East.
The fruit of the Nigella plant looks like a large capsule and contains small pear-shaped white seeds that when exposed to air, turn black. When the fruit matures, these capsules are gathered, dried and gently crushed in order to collect the seeds. Nigella seeds resemble sesame seeds except in terms of flavour as the former is not sweet. There are different ways in which you can incorporate this savoury spice into your daily cooking. Some options are listed here:
Flavour Curries & Lentils
Add them to your gravy dishes for that strong aroma and have a slight peppery flavour. Popularly used in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines, Nigella seeds pair well with all types of lentils.
Enhance the Taste of Vegetables
Everyday root vegetables like butternut squash are completely transformed for the better with a hint of Nigella. They leave behind a good aftertaste once consumed and give the much-required kick to otherwise bland vegetables.
Incorporate into Spice Mixes
These seeds combine well with other spices like mustard, cumin, and fenugreek to form an intoxicating spice mixture in powder form. Such spice mixes when added to both, vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes, add depths of flavour to the entire dish.
Sprinkle as a Garnish
Many times, seeds of Nigella are used as a garnish by liberally sprinkling them over once the dish is ready to be served. They add that welcome crunch when added to salads. Even while preparing stir fries they can be easily incorporated for that extra texture.
Bake and Serve
When added to traditionally baked bread, this spice adds that wonderful nuttiness to plain bread. Even in terms of the overall look hints of black peeping through the white bread, makes it very appealing and inviting.
Preserve and Relish
Nigella is sometimes added to pickles as they play the role of a preservative. Pickles mature with age and are an accompaniment to the main meal, are eaten in moderation. Therefore, they require a longer shelf life.
This wonder seed also has health benefits. With its antioxidant properties, Nigella seeds soothe sore throats, skin-related inflammations and when mixed with ginger, helps get rid of that nagging purging sensation. In India, they are popularly referred to as ‘Kalounji’ while in the United States; they are known as ‘Charnushka’.
Add this zing to your everyday cooking and take it up many notches.