Tag Archives: Nigella sativa

Black onion seed in Malvik

A first for my garden and something I hadn’t thought was possible until a couple of years ago. I harvested black onion seed for the first time this autumn.

These are the seeds of Nigella sativa (also known as black caraway, black cumin, nigella, kalojeere, siyah daneh or kalonji; Norwegian: legesvartkarve / svartfrø) are probably best known in Western Europe as a spice used in particular on Indian naan bread. It’s also ground as part of a 5-seed spice mix (panch phoron) used in Bangladesh, Eastern India and Nepal, together with fenugreek, nigella, cumin, black mustard and fennel in about equal parts. They are also used in the Middle East, for example in Armenian String Cheese (see https://www.google.com/search?q=armenian+string+cheese+with+nigella+seeds) and, in Palestine, the seeds are ground into qizha paste, first soaked in salt water overnight, then roasted in an oven, and dried in the sun before grinding!
I tried growing Nigella sativa in 2008 when I still had a greenhouse. I germinated seed in a spice packet, but even in the greenhouse there was no yield. Then two years ago, a member of KVANN (Norwegian Seed Savers), Hildur Hauksdóttir of the Domkirkodden Herb Garden in Hamar, Norway offered seed of Nigella sativa through our yearbook! She reported that they grew well in Hamar (which is a little north of Oslo).
I obtained seed from Hildur and, now, have harvested seed for the first time outside without protection although they were started indoors.!
There a reportedly some 22 known varieties in India, the second biggest producer (6 mill. ha), behind Turkey at 8 mill. ha.  (a small amount is grown in the US).
I guess Hildur’s seed were a hardier variety than the seed I used in the past  and I will now offer these to other members of KVANN!

Although the flowers aren’t as large as other Nigella species such as ornamental Love-in-a-mist (which can also be used) it is still quite pretty in flower!

Seed pods
Young seedlings

Golpared onion bhajis

Gram or chick pea flour with golpar and black onion seed
The batter (add the sliced onions and water to make a thickish batter with a little salt).
Deep fried onion bhajis Persian style!

Indian bhajis are a popular snack or side dish in UK Indian restaurants…deep fried onions in  a batter made of chick pea flour with various spices usually including cumin, coriander, black onion seed or kalonji (Nigella sativa), I replaced the cumin with golpar (ground seed of Heracleum persicum collected from a wild stand in Trondheim)! Delicious!
P.S: Mental note: try with broad bean flour!