Unique, Savoury, Nigella Seed - What it is and how it's Used

Recently, we wrote an article on the top 20 Indian Spices to use to expand your spice repertoire. There is one spice we missed. A delicious spice with a friendly, versatile flavour that will complement almost any dish: nigella, or as it is called in India, Kalonji.

Nigella is a small black seed resembling poppyseeds, but slightly darker and larger. Nigella has an onion/pepper flavour with savoury notes reminiscent of oregano. It's a delicious spice.

Kalonji Aloo

Potatoes and other root vegetables are a natural partner to Nigella or Kalonji. Kalonji Aloo is a simple recipe that combines the following ingredients:

curry leaves
chilil powder

These are sautéed and cooked up much like hash browns. It's a perfect first recipe to get to know this distinctive spice; there aren't too many competing flavours, the potato is a neutral main ingredient and you get a good sense of what the spice adds to the dish. We prefer a method like the one in this recipe from the food blog kitchensizzler.com



Another use for Nigella is to toast it or temper for a curry sauce. Nigella has an agreeable sort of flavour that can mingle well with most spice combinations. As it is close to pepper and onion, you'll find you can put it in most curry sauces. It is a great companion for cumin, and in four person dish, you can experiment by tempering anywhere from between a teaspoon and tablespoon of nigella seeds at the beginning of the cooking process. 


Finally, breads of many kinds are the perfect hosts for nigella. Any bread that will benefit from poppyseeds will benefit from nigella. You can top bagels, baguettes, or other breads with nigella by brushing the tops with an egg mixture, or you can simply include the seeds within your dough for extra flavour and texture. 


January 25, 2019 — Ben M

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