Nigella sativa (sometimes confused with black caraway and black cumin) is an annual flowering plant in the family Ranunculaceae, native to south and Southwest Asia.
The fruit is a large and inflated capsule composed of three to seven united follicles, each containing numerous seeds which are used as spice, sometimes as a replacement for black cumin
Archaeological evidence about the earliest cultivation of Nigella seed is unrecorded, but seeds were found in several sites from ancient Egypt, including Tutankhamen’s tomb.
Seeds were found in a Hittite flask in Turkey from the second millennium BCE
The seeds of Nigella 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 seeds flavor curries, vegetables, and pulses.
They can be used as a seasoning in recipes with pod fruit, vegetables, salads, and poultry.
In some cultures, the black seeds are used to flavor bread products, and are used as part of the spice mixture panch phoron (meaning a mixture of five spices) and alone in many recipes in Bengali cuisine and most recognizably in naan.
Nigella is also used in Armenian string cheese, a braided string cheese called majdouleh (or majdouli) in the Middle East.