Introducing the Taste the World Club, a collaboration between the Scarsdale Public Library and Apiary at the Library.
Each month we will provide a small amount of a different spice or spice blend from a different part of the world.
Cook with the spice and join us for a Zoom discussion of what we each made. We can share tips, recipes and opinions.
This month we're cooking with Nigella seeds (or Kalonji). Nigella seeds are probably one of the most confused spices. They are sometimes referred to as onion seeds, black cumin, black caraway and fennel flower, among others. What it lacks in aroma — it has just a hint of a savory scent — it makes up for in taste. Nigella seeds have an oregano-like quality with herbaceous notes, a slight bitterness and a warm, toasted-onion flavor.
Native to the Mediterranean region, they are also cultivated in Egypt, India, other parts of North Africa, western and southern Asia, Southern Europe and the Middle East. The Nigella is an annual plant, related to the buttercup, with blue or white flowers that bloom in July.
Nigella sativa seeds were said to have been found in King Tut’s tomb and have been used for thousands of years as a preservative, a spice, and as the Prophet Muhammad claimed, a seed with healing powers. Whatever ability nigella may have to mend the ill, it certainly does wonders in savory pastries, pilafs, curries, vegetable dishes and pickles. They also add great texture when sprinkled whole over baked goods or when added to dough.
Here are some suggestions for their use: