The culinary use of black seed throughout history
The beauty of black seed or nigella sativa is that it has been used as a culinary additive to enhance the flavor of a plethora of dishes, throughout history. Not only is black seed a cure-all elixir but also a delicious culinary ingredient.
Countries that have used black seed for cooking are mainly in the Mediterranean regions including India, Pakistan and Afghanistan since that is where the spice originates.
In old Latin black seed was called, ‘panacea’ meaning ‘cure all’ while in Arabic it is termed as ‘habbat el baraka’ translated as ‘seeds of blessing’. In India and Pakistan, it is called ‘kalonji’ while in china it is referred to as hak jung chou.
Nigella seeds have a pungent aroma and its taste has notes of onion, oregano, and black pepper. In India and Pakistan, it is used in a variety of curries including achar gosht and naan. Black seed is also drunk with milk to boost immunity and strength in these regions.
In turkey, people have used black seed for cooking since centuries. It is added to a popular breakfast bagel known as simit, which was invented in Istanbul in 1525.
Egyptians have used black seed in culinary to preserve lemons in pickle. This healing seed was also found entombed in Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen’s remains, which, date back to 1323 bc. Egyptians also black seed to make dukkah, a traditional condiment consisting of mixed herbs and spices.
Famous British chef Nigella Lawson has endorsed her namesake spice, nigella sativa in his famous lamb ribs recipe. The British also use it as a topping on scrambled eggs and in soup.
The Persians used black seed for cooking on a flatbread known as naan-e-berberi, which is also centuries, old.
Perhaps cooks in these regions noticed the healing properties of black seed, which is why they used it so commonly in their dishes. And what can be a better ingredient to add than one, which is a major antioxidant that helps with inflammation and an antihistamine with anti-aging, anti-fungal and digestive properties that also boosts your immune system.
It is no wonder that black seed has been mentioned in the old testament and was also quoted by the holy prophet (saw) as being a remedy for any ailment except for death.