Nigella (kalonji , kala jeera)

Nigella is a genus of about 14 species of annual plants in the family Ranunculaceae. It is native to southern Europe, north Africa, south and southwest Asia. Common names applied to members of this genus are devil-in-a-bush or love in a mist.

The species grow to 20-90 cm tall, with finely divided leaves; the leaf segments are narrowly linear to threadlike. The flowers are white, yellow, pink, pale blue or pale purple, with 5-10 petals. The fruit is a capsule composed of several united follicles, each containing numerous seeds; in some species (e.g. Nigella damascena), the capsule is large and inflated.

Culinary use:
Nigella is used in India and the Middle East as a spice and condiment and occasionally in Europe as both a pepper substitute and a spice
The seeds of N. sativa are used as a spice in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. The dry roasted nigella seeds flavour curries, vegetables and pulses. The black seeds taste like a combination of onions, black pepper and oregano, and have a bitterness to them like mustard seeds. It can be used as a “pepper” in recipes with pod fruit, vegetables and salads.

Medicinal use :
In India, the seeds are used as a carminative and stimulant to ease bowel and indigestion problems, and are given to treat intestinal worms and nerve defects to reduce flatulence, and induce sweating. The seeds are known to repel certain insects and can be used like moth balls.

Flavour :
Slightly bitter and peppery with a crunchy texture.

Other names :
Fennel flower.
Nutmeg flower.
Roman coriander.
Black caraway.
Black union seed.
Wild Onion Seed
Devil in-the-bush.
black cumin
Indian: kala jeera kalonji, krishnajiraka, kalo jira, kalo jeera, kali jeera.

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Recipe source
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