Nigella Seeds
The earthy-sweet spice you already love

Nutrient-rich black nigella seeds have an earthy-sweet, woodsy and slightly oniony flavor and a subtle bitterness. The tiny seeds, which come from the ranunculus family of flowering plants, are used throughout North Africa, the Middle East and parts of India. Resembling black sesame, nigella seeds often are used to flavor curries, lentils and vegetable dishes.

While the name may not be familiar, chances are you’ve already tasted them. They often are sprinkled on Indian naan and Jewish rye bread, are used to season Middle Eastern pilafs and are included in the Indian spice blend panch phoran.

We prefer to toast the seeds, which also sometimes are called black cumin or kalonji, before adding them to recipes to bring out their aroma and nuanced flavors. After toasting, nigella seeds add aromatic complexity to spice rubs and finishing salts; they pair particularly well with other earthy flavors, like cumin and turmeric.

Sprinkle whole nigella seeds over bread before baking, as you would sesame. Their crunchy texture makes them a wonderful garnish for everything from salads to soups to avocado toast. And they’re an ideal complement to autumnal foods, such as roasted squash, or an earthy counterpoint for fresh summer vegetables and bright, zesty salad dressings. They are particularly good over fried or scrambled eggs.