Thursday, 28 April 2011

Cooking with Nigella

See what I did there?

This is actually about a spice we don't use much in New Zealand, Nigella sativa, sometimes called black cumin.  I needed some for a Turkish recipe—cornbread with raisins—a few weeks ago, and bought a few seeds on TradeMe.  Later I found the local delicatessen had it in stock.

Nigella damascena (the name means from Damascus) is a cottage garden flower we don't grow often enough.  I know it as "love in a mist".  It's a member of the buttercup family Ranunculaceae, but you wouldn't guess that based on its superficial appearance.  It has pale blue flowers, and clusters of fat seed pods (technically follicles) that open at their tops to release the large black seeds.  It's the seeds of N. sativa that are used in cooking, mostly in middle eastern confectionary and as a garnish on bread (Eastern Mediterranean and on Naan bread).  I've got my seeds now, and will sow them soon, in the dark as recommended.  They have quite a strong smell, a bit unusual and hard to describe, and they're a nice addition to the cornbread.

Nigella seeds on the cornbread


  1. Hi Phil, is it a winter grower?

  2. No Corin, I don't think so, but a UK site says sow seed from September (=March for us). I'll sow a few soon and more later.