Nigella seed, another seed that has gained more fame through Ottolenghi's cookbooks. Nigella seed he uses in his cookbook Ottolenghi Test Kitchen 'Shelf love'.
But what exactly is Nigella seed? They are the pitch black, triangular, dried seeds of Nigella Sativa plant. An annual herb in the ranunculus family that grows to a height of about 60 cm. The seeds don't smell like anything at first, but if you suck on them it tastes like oregano, but of course just different, spicier.
Nigella seed is used by Ottolenghi in the dish of roasted pumpkin, a dish inspired by Indian cuisine. The seed is also widely used in Ayurvedic cuisine where it is called kalonji seed. Many good qualities are attributed to it. Due to antioxidant properties, nigella helps to kill free radicals in the body that can cause oxidative damage. Furthermore, there is a substance called thymoquinone and has been associated with antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial and antiparasitic activity. All very nice side effects so for a tiny black seed that is also just delicious in your dishes.
The seeds of the nigella are briefly roasted in a dry frying pan or fruited at the beginning of the cooking process to obtain a nutmeg-like taste. The taste is also described as onion-like with notes of oregano and black pepper.
You can use the seed in many dishes and preparations, Nigella is one of the five spices in Bengali five-spice powder (panch poron) In Indian cuisine it is widely used, especially in chutneys and vegetable dishes or for example as a flavor accent on baked bread / naan. Roast the seeds briefly in a dry pan before use so that the taste can be released.
On the Internet Nigella is often confused with black cumin, this is not the same seed. Black cumin is actually not a seed, but a dried fruit. Best known in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India. Although "ordinary cumin" smells delicious by itself, black cumin smells a bit weird. Earthy and stale, like a fermented, black tea. But baked in dishes, a nice, nutty taste / smell is released. It is used in Indian Masalas.