Magic Nigella Seeds

By Farhana Rahman


What superfood do you see on this plate?

a) Cauliflower

b) Turmeric

c) Chilli

d) Nigella seeds

e) All of the above

The answer is of course e) All of the above! But the one we wanted to share with you today is our store cupboard hero - Nigella seeds. You may have heard of nigella sativa, black cumin, blackseed, kaljoni, fennel flower, nutmeg flower, Roman coriander, black caraway, black onion seed, love-in-a-mist seeds and devil-in-a-bush seeds...ALL THE SAME THING!
You know when you feel like you’re about to see The Next Big Thing…Goji who? Well, turns out there’s nothing new about it. Nigella seeds have been used for centuries around the world, particularly in south Asian, African and Arab diets. Their healing properties are well known in traditional healing systems like Ayurveda. We grew up with the stuff – whether sprinkled over a teaspoon of honey or crushed into a paste and heated with mustard-seed oil and garlic and eaten with rice – they were our mother’s first line of defence against illness. .

A 2013 review article in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine gives a fascinating insight into all the scientific studies that have been carried out to demonstrate their healing power including, “diuretic, antihypertensive, antidiabetic, anticancer and immunomodulatory, analgesic, antimicrobial, anthelmintics, analgesics and anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic, bronchodilator, gastroprotective, hepatoprotective, renal protective and antioxidant properties” – to name a few!

They have a sharp, peppery aroma and a rich, bitter, oniony taste. We love them with cooked vegetables but as part of our Winter Defence Routine, we keep a jar on the shelf and just take a pinch a day along with our vitamins!

Foodfarzana rahman