Small black seeds that provide a slightly bitter and somewhat peppery flavor when dried for use in foods. With a teardrop shape and a crunchy texture, the Nigella Seed has a thin outer casing that is rough and sharply pointed covering an oily white interior. Although this seed may be referred to as black onion seed, black cumin or black caraway seed and at times mistaken for black sesame seeds, the inference is not correct. The Nigella Seed originated from the ranunculacae family of herbs and shrubs which produced the Nigella sativa species of plant from which the seeds are harvested. This seed is often used in Middle Eastern foods, such as Indian cuisine where it is considered a spice to be added to meat and vegetable dishes or sprinkled on top of breads prior to baking, such as naan bread. In the Middle East, Nigella Seeds are added to the bread dough to enhance the flavor and texture. The flavor within the seed is enhances after it is baked, toasted or fried in a small amount of oil or juices of foods. If necessary to substitute, celery seed may be the best alternative or possibly onion seed if Nigella is not readily available. Nigella Seeds can be found in Middle Eastern or Indian food stores as well as specialty food markets.
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