While perusing my recent copy of Nutraceuticals World, I came accross a bit of information about one of my favorite seeds from India, the nigella seed. There it is used on top of breads and it has a wonderful distinct flavor that is like onion but without the bite. Known as “Black Seed” in the Middle East, it is actually plays a significant role in traditional Arab medicine. It is revered as it is considered an anti-inflammatory and is used to treat asthma, allergies, bronchitis and gastrointestinal problems.
I still like it as a culinary herb but now will humbly bow down to my supply before using it in cooking. As the queen of schmootz, I love to add it to yogurt sauces for dips, along with greens onions. They look very pretty together and offer a subtle flavor to creamy, slightly sour greek style yogurt.
You can find nigella seeds online at The Savory Spice Shop. One of my favorite spice reference books by Jill Norman, Herbs and Spices: A Cook’s Reference is a great gift idea for anyone wanting learn more about herbs and spices. She offers this recipe using nigella seeds that is used typically in India to season vegetables and dahl.
Bengali Panch Phoron
1 Tbsp. Cumin Seeds
1 Tbsp. Fennel seeds
1 Tbsp. Mustard Seeds
1 Tbsp.Nigella Seeds
1 Tbsp. Fenugreek Seeds
Combine all seeds together. For cooking, heat a mild flavor oil, like safflower oil in a pan then add 1 Tbsp. of the seed mixture and heat until they start to pop. This can be added to steamed vegetables or stirred into cooked lentils.