In a nutshell: Whole nigella seeds are crunchy, warming and peppery and can be used instead of sesame seeds to add some extra onion flavour.
Nigella is a staple of Middle Eastern, North African, and Indian cooking. Sometimes mistakenly called black onion seeds, the nigella sativa plant more closely resembles a poppy plant, while the seeds look like black sesame seeds. The taste of nigella seeds, however, is unmistakably herbaceous and oniony. Nigella blends very nicely with other spices, and is one of the five spices of the popular Bengali panch phoran blend.
Nigella seeds are used in countless ways, from naan and other breads to soups and even pickles. In India, where it is called kalonji, it is often browned in oil with other whole spices to create the flavour base of many dishes. It’s a great topping for salads as well. Whether used as a garnish or as an addition to baked or steamed vegetable dishes, nigella always adds a touch of crunch and flavour.
How to use:
- Sprinkle over grilled squid.
- Add to a herb omelette.
- Add to a tuna Poke or sushi rolls.
About Épices de Cru
Épices de Cru began in 1982 as a catering partnership between Philippe and Ethné de Vienne. Their mission was a kind of “cooking pot anthropology:” learning the secrets of family cooking around the world and applying these techniques to the needs of hungry Montrealers. The secret, they learned, was spices. Over the last two decades, Philippe and Ethné have searched for the world’s best spices, accompanied by their children, Marika and Arik. The de Viennes believe in direct sourcing spices: visiting growing regions, spending time with growers, and developing personal relationships that last decades. In 2004, they officially opened their first spice shop in Montreal’s fantastic Jean Talon market– it’s since become a mecca for foodies from all over the world. I first visited in 2008 and have been buying and using their spices on a regular basis ever since that first exciting visit. They steadfastly maintain that they do nothing original, only facilitating the exchange of culinary common sense from one place to another. But, what they do is simply quite brilliant - by providing us with the finest quality ingredients, and their superb spice mixes, we can all experiment with unusual spices and recreate delicious recipes from around the world.