Black seed is a plant. People have used the seed to make medicine for over 2000 years. It was even discovered in the tomb of King Tut.
Historically, black seed has been used for headaches, toothache, nasal congestion, asthma, arthritis, and intestinal worms. It has also been used for “pink eye” (conjunctivitis), pockets of infection (abscesses), and parasites.
Today, the black seed is most commonly used for asthma, diabetes, hypertension, weight loss, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.
Black cumin, (Nigella sativa), also called black seed, black caraway, Roman coriander, kalonji, or fennel flower, annual plant of the ranunculus family (Ranunculaceae), grown for its pungent seeds, which are used as a spice and in herbal medicine. The black cumin plant is found in southwestern Asia and parts of the Mediterranean and Africa, where it has a long history of use in diverse culinary and medicinal traditions. The seeds have an aroma similar to fennel and have a pungent flavor somewhat similar to nutmeg, though the plant is not related to either. The seeds are commonly roasted and ground as a spice and are widely used in India, the Middle East, and parts of North Africa to season curries, rice, bread, and sweet confections. Black cumin is also important in traditional medicine in many places and is an esteemed herbal remedy for a wide variety of ailments. The plant is sometimes grown as an ornamental for its attractive flowers and is closely related to love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena), a more common ornamental.
- Panch Phoron (Bengali 5-spice): A simple combination of five spices, used whole. Mix together equal quantities of fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, black mustard seeds, and nigella seeds. To use panch phoron, fry spices in oil until you hear them pop and the aromas are released. Sprinkle over broccoli, cauliflower, roasted potatoes, and lentils.
- Dukkah (Egyptian spice mixture): A blend of toasted hazelnuts, cumin, nigella seeds, coriander, and sesame seeds. It can be ground into a powder or left chunky and crunchy. Try it over hummus, or alongside radishes and cucumbers for dipping.
- Mediterranean hummus with nigella seeds: To give your hummus a hint of smoky flavor, finish your dip with a drizzle of high-quality olive oil, toasted nigella seeds, and parsley.
- Naan bread: When making homemade naan, brush dough with melted ghee and sprinkle with nigella seeds before baking.
- Ye’abesha gomen (Ethiopian Collard Greens): Fragrant collards cooked with an Ethiopian-style spiced butter flavored with nigella seeds, cardamom, and fenugreek. It pairs wonderfully with Ethiopian meat and vegetarian dishes including doro wat and sega wat.
- Aloo chechki (Bengali potato stir-fry): A classic Indian dish with potato and onion sauteed with fresh green chilies and nigella seeds. Serve with a side of flatbread. If you love vegetarian Indian dishes, try this recipe for Aloo Gobi and finish it with a sprinkle of nigella seeds.
- Roasted butternut squash: Cubed and roasted butternut squash coated in a mixture of nigella seeds, cumin seeds, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, chile, sugar, and salt. Serve warm with fresh cilantro sprigs and a dollop of plain yogurt on the side.
- Carrot salad with feta: A simple middle-eastern inspired carrot salad drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil. Topped with crumbled feta, chopped parsley and toasted nigella seeds.
- Asian vegetable stir-fry: Stir fry vegetables such as broccoli, red bell peppers, ginger, julienned carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and cabbage in a wok. Finish your dish with a soy sauce and sherry mixture and top with toasted nigella seeds.
- Red lentil dhal: A thick South-Asian inspired stew made with lentils, onions, garlic, turmeric, coriander, cumin seed powder, nigella seeds, cardamom, and cinnamon. Additional toasted nigella seeds can be sprinkled on top before serving.