Nigella – Kalonji – Charnushka – Black Caraway

Just recently I began trying new spices. I started by going through a spice list of a local spice supplier. First, I randomly began buying unknown spices. My thoughts were to expand my knowledge of spices used for cooking.

At the beginning of my spice buying I thought there would be only a few spices that I don’t know. However, I soon discovered that they are many. With an exotic, European sounding name, I first selected Charnushka. It is a spice that is grown in India, and indigenous to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. I soon l found out that it is typically used on New York Rye bread. It is also used on naan bread.

Charnushka, or black caraway seeds, are from an annual plant. Their seeds are black, little, and triangular shaped.  It is used in the Bengali five spice blend called Panch phoran. Panch phoran is a spice mixture made of equal parts of nigella seeds, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, and feenel seeds. The seeds are left whole. These seeds have also been used to ease indigestion and ease flatulence. In the above photo you can see the mature black seeds. These are what we use when we buy charnushka, or black caraway seeds.

My first dinner using charnushka was a cauliflower dish. I added some olive oil to a cast iron frying pan, turned it  to a medium heat, added the charnushka, then added tumeric. Finally, I added my cauliflower. I turned it down the heat to low, mixing the vegetable gently to get a through coating of spice on my cauliflower. To up the flavor I squeezed a bit of a fresh lime. This is a delicious side dish with a chicken or lamb dinner.  If you are a vegetarian, add to your dinner naan bread, a yogurt / mint dish, and chickpeas. I am sure you will be content with a new dinner menu!

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