Nigella sativa is an annual flowering plant, native to south and southwest Asia. It grows to 20–30 cm (7.9–11.8 in) tall, with finely divided, linear (but not thread-like) leaves. The flowers are delicate, and usually coloured pale blue and white, with five to ten petals. The fruit is a large and inflated capsule composed of three to seven united follicles, each containing numerous seeds. The seed is used as a spice. In English, Nigella sativa seed is variously called fennel flower, nutmeg flower, black caraway, Roman coriander, and black cumin. Other names used, sometimes misleadingly, are onion seed and black sesame, both of which are similar-looking, but unrelated. It is used as part of the spice mixture paanch phoran or panch phoron (meaning a mixture of five spices) and by itself in a great many recipes in Bengali cookery and most recognizably in naan bread. The Turkish name çörek otu literally means "bun's herb" from its use in flavouring the çörek buns. Such braided-dough buns are widespread in the cuisines of Turkey and its neighbours (see Tsoureki ). In Bosnian, the Turkish name for N. sativa is spelled as ?urekot. The seed is used in Bosnia, and particularly its capital Sarajevo, to flavour pastries (Bosnian: somun) often baked on Muslim religious holidays. Nigella sativa has a pungent bitter taste and smell. It is used primarily in confectionery and liquors. Peshawari naan is, as a rule, topped with kalonji seeds. Nigella is also used in Armenian string cheese, a braided string cheese called majdouleh or majdouli in the Middle East.
USDA Zone - 8
Season to sow - Spring
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