Other Names: Fennel flower, Roman coriander, Nutmeg flower, Black seed, Black Onion seed, Black caraway
Medicinal Uses: Headache, Digestive aid, Flatulence, Toothache, Asthma, Allergies
Nigella sativa is an annual flowering plant, native to south and southwest Asia. It grows to 20–30 cm (7.9–12 in) tall, with finely divided, linear (but not thread-like) leaves. The flowers are delicate, and usually coloured pale blue and white, with five to ten petals. The fruit is a large and inflated capsule composed of three to seven united follicles, each containing numerous seeds. The seed is used as a spice.
In English, Nigella sativa seed is variously called fennel flower, nutmeg flower, Roman coriander, blackseed or black caraway. Other names used, sometimes misleadingly, are onion seed and black sesame, both of which are similar-looking, but unrelated. The seeds are frequently referred to as black cumin (as in Assamese: kaljeera or kolajeera or Bengali kalo jeeray), In south Indian language Kannada it is called “Krishna Jeerige”, but this is also used for a different spice, Bunium persicum. The scientific name is a derivative of Latin niger (black). Original black cumin seed is Carum bulbocastanum.
Nigella sativa has a pungent bitter taste and smell. It is used primarily in confectionery and liquors. Peshawari naan is, as a rule, topped with kalonji seeds.