I have never been a big fan of caraway seed. I find it too sharp and volatile for my taste. One day, I tried some Armenian String Cheese. The neatest thing about it were these little black seeds running through it. I found out that they were called ‘nigella’ and also knew that the nigella I grew in my backyard contained seed pods. Put 2 and 2 together and found out that I had been growing those tasty little seeds for years and never took full advantage of them! I started putting them in a number of things: breads, salads, pickles, anywhere I would have used caraway or any strong flavored seed. They are perfect.
Nigella has a strong flavor and it is a bit sharp but it’s not as overpowering as caraway seed and it’s scent is more of a perfume and less of a harsh clean smell.
I mentioned this to a friend in the Middle East who assured me that they were wonderful for your health and a staple in Middle Eastern cooking! They are expressed for their oil, the seeds are sold in bulk all over souks and on the internet. You can buy bulk nigella seed in Indian stores as well, Pakistani store, and any place with foods from “The Silk Road”. I bet that Chinese food stores are no stranger to them, either.
The reason why I am talking about them here is because they are famously grown on Sicily! The hills are often filled with the nodding blue heads of Love-In-A-Mist, followed by fat seed pods which are then harvested and sold at market.
You don’t have to go to Sicily to get Nigella seed, you can find them on the internet and they are not very expensive at all. They go by a variety of different names: nigella, black seed, blackseed, black cumin, and there may be a few more. I just use them when I want a bit of piquancy added to my dishes.
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