Nigella is a beautiful plant with light blue and feathery leaves. Nigella seed is obtained from a different species, which is only grown for its seeds. It grows primarily in Western Asia and Southern Europe as well as many parts of Turkey.
Small black seeds that we use come out of the pods growing on the branches of this plant. The highest production and consumption of nigella seeds in the world is in India. Indians use nigella seeds in a variety of dishes from pickles to rice. In different culinary cultures, nigella seeds are mostly sprinkled over bread and pastries together with sesame.
In addition to its original taste, its matt black color and teardrop shape are distinctive features. The seed capsules are gathered when they ripen. Then dried and lightly crushed to remove the seeds easily.
Nigella has an herbaceous aroma and a nutty, earthy strong flavor with slight notes of pepper. It has a crunchy texture and breaks up in the mouth when chewed.
Not only in Turkish cuisine but also in many world cuisines, it has become a tradition to sprinkle nigella seeds together with sesame over savory pastries. Nigella enriches bread, pita bread, börek (filled pastry in various shapes), bagel and pastries both visually and tastefully.
It complements the taste of soft-textured cheese types such as feta, goat cheese and tulum cheese. It’s also very harmonious with yoghurt.
In Indian cuisine, nigella is particularly added to rice and curry dishes of different mildness.
Always buy nigella as seeds because they keep the aroma much better than the ground form. You can store them in airtight (preferably glass) containers for up to 2 years.
Nigella seeds have a very special aroma that enriches the taste of many dishes from omelets to pasta. Get yourself a spice grinder and fill it with nigella. Try grinding it over any dish just as you do it with black pepper. You will notice the unique flavor it brings to your meals.
If you enjoy dipping your bread in olive oil, here is an idea for you to double up your joy. Put some extra virgin olive oil in a bowl and add some nigella seeds and turmeric powder in it. Mix it well and serve together with fresh or toasted bread. You can serve it at breakfast or before lunch and dinner.
You can prepare a very delicious and easy aperitif with nigella seeds and cheese. Rub some soft tulum or feta cheese in a bowl to soften it thoroughly. Then mix some nigella seeds with it. Take small pieces from the mixture and roll them as balls. Put your cheese balls in a bowl filled with extra virgin olive. Serve it together with fresh or toasted bread.
You can pair nigella with condensed yoghurt to prepare a nice sauce to serve with vegetable dishes. Place some condensed yoghurt in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt, some olive oil and nigella seeds in it. Mix well and serve your sauce with roasted or steamed root vegetables such as celery, topinambur, carrot and potato.