Introduction and description
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Nigella sativa is variously called Black cumin, kalonji (from Hindi), fennel flower, nutmeg flower, black caraway, Roman coriander, black onion seed and black sesame. All these names are misleading as Nigella sativa is not related to onions, fennel, nutmeg, caraway or any of the other variants. Thus we have stuck to the name Nigella seeds, as it is the seeds that tend to be of most interest both medicinally and in cooking.
Nigella sativa is an annual flowering plant in the family Ranunculaceae, native to south and southwest Asia.
Nigella sativa grows to 20–30 cm (7.9–11.8 in) tall, with finely divided, linear (but not thread-like) leaves. The flowers are delicate, and usually coloured pale blue and white, with five to ten petals.
The black cumin fruit is a large and inflated capsule composed of three to seven united follicles, each containing numerous seeds.
The seeds of Nigella sativa are used as a spice in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. The black seeds taste like a combination of onions, black pepper and oregano. They have a pungent bitter taste and smell.
The dry-roasted nigella seeds flavor curries, vegetables and pulses. It can be used as a "pepper" in recipes with pod fruit, vegetables, salads and poultry. It is used as part of the spice mixture panch phoron (meaning a mixture of five spices) and by itself in many recipes in Bengali cuisine and most recognizably in naan bread. Nigella is also used in Armenian string cheese, a braided string cheese called majdouleh or majdouli in the Middle East.
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