Nigella is a member of the buttercup family and its tiny black seeds are found in a head similar to a poppy head. They are also known as black cumin and are often confused with onion seeds and although similar are not the same. The seeds have very little aroma until they are crushed and then they give off a mild peppery smell.
Uses: Nigella seeds are a popular ingredient in Indian cookery and are included in a range of dishes including chutneys, pickles, vegetable dishes and dhal. They are widely used in Middle Eastern countries in sweet and savoury dishes and are commonly sprinkled on bread to give it a peppery taste.
To prepare: To bring out the flavour dry-fry nigella seeds before using. The seeds can be ground to include in recipes but they are quite hard so use a coffee mill or spice mill rather than a pestle and mortar.