If you’re like most people, you may not be familiar with nigella seeds. Often called black cumin, kalonji, or by their scientific name Nigella sativa, these little seeds pack a big flavor and a long list of potential health benefits.
However, if you can’t find them or don’t have any on hand, don’t worry! There are several great substitutes for nigella seeds that will work just as well in your recipes.
Some of the best substitutes for nigella seeds are black sesame seeds, cumin seeds, and caraway seeds.
What are Nigella Seeds?
Nigella seeds come from the Nigella sativa plant, which is native to southwestern Asia. The plant has small, black seeds that have a pungent, earthy flavor. Nigella seeds are often used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, and they can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.
Some studies suggest that they may help to boost digestion and immunity, and they are sometimes used as a natural treatment for colds and flu. Whether you use them in cooking or for their health benefits, Nigella seeds are an interesting and versatile addition to your pantry.
What are Nigella Seeds Used for?
The small, black seeds of the Nigella plant have been used for centuries in traditional medicine and cuisine.
Today, Nigella seeds are prized for their unique flavor and nutritional value. They can be used whole or ground into a powder, and are often used as a spice in Indian, Middle Eastern, and North African dishes.
In addition to their culinary uses, Nigella seeds are also believed to have medicinal properties. Studies suggest that they may help to boost immunity, lower blood pressure, and improve digestion.
Nigella seeds are available for purchase online and at many health food stores.
What Can Be Used Instead of Nigella Seeds?
There are several great substitutes for nigella seeds that will work just as well in your recipes, whether you’re using them for their flavor or their health benefits.
Here are some of the best substitutes for nigella seeds:
1. Black Sesame Seeds
Looking for a substitute for those hard-to-find nigella seeds? Why not try black sesame seeds instead?
Although they have a slightly different flavor, black sesame seeds can be used in many of the same dishes. They are commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine and can be added to curries, rice dishes, and bread.
Black sesame seeds can also be used to make a flavorful paste that can be used as a condiment or spread.
If you are unable to find nigella seeds at your local supermarket, give black sesame seeds a try. You may just find that they become a new staple in your kitchen.
2. White Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds have a similar flavor profile to nigella seeds, and they can be easily found in most Asian markets. When substituting sesame seeds for nigella seeds, it is best to use a 1:1 ratio.
However, keep in mind that the texture of sesame seeds is quite different from nigella seeds. As a result, the final dish may not have the same visual appeal.
Nevertheless, substituting white sesame seeds for nigella seeds is a great way to add flavor to your favorite recipes.
3. Cumin Seeds
Cumin seeds and nigella seeds are both common spices with a long history of culinary use. Both spices have a sharp, pungent flavor that can add a touch of heat to dishes.
However, cumin seeds are slightly more bitter than nigella seeds, and they also have a more intense aroma. Because of these differences, cumin seeds are often used as a substitute for nigella seeds in recipes.
When substituting cumin seeds for nigella seeds, it is best to start with half the amount of cumin seeds called for in the recipe. Then, taste the dish and add more cumin seeds as desired.
With a little experimentation, it is easy to find the perfect balance of spice and flavor in any dish.
4. Cumin Powder
Cumin powder can be used as a substitute for nigella seeds in many recipes.
Nigella seeds have a strong, pungent flavor that can be overpowering in some dishes. Cumin powder provides a more subtle flavor that can enhance the flavor of many dishes without overwhelming other flavors.
In addition, cumin powder is easier to find than nigella seeds in most supermarkets. As a result, cumin powder can be a convenient and versatile substitute for nigella seeds in many recipes.
5. Caraway Seeds
Caraway seeds are often used in baking and are particularly popular in rye bread. However, they can also be used as a substitute for nigella seeds.
Nigella seeds have a similar flavor to caraway seeds, but they are more pungent. As a result, caraway seeds can be used to add flavor to dishes without making them too spicy.
In addition, caraway seeds can help to balance the flavors of other ingredients. For example, if a dish is too sweet, adding a few caraway seeds can help to cut through the sweetness and add some depth of flavor.
As a result, caraway seeds are a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different dishes.
6. Fenugreek Seeds
Fenugreek and nigella seeds come from completely different plants, but they share a number of similarities in terms of both appearance and flavor. Fenugreek seeds are small and kidney-shaped, while nigella seeds are slightly larger and more oval-shaped. Both types of seed have a hard outer shell, and inside the shell is a faintly bitter kernel.
When it comes to flavor, fenugreek and nigella seeds are both somewhat earthy, with hints of Mace or nutmeg. Nigella seeds also have a slightly sulfuric taste, while fenugreek seeds are sweeter. Because of these similarities, fenugreek seeds can be used as a substitute for nigella seeds in many recipes.
When using fenugreek seeds as a substitute, it is important to keep in mind that they are more bitter than nigella seeds, so you may need to adjust the amount of other spices in the recipe accordingly.
7. Celery Seeds
While they may be small, celery seeds pack a big punch when it comes to flavor. These tiny seeds have a fresh, slightly pungent taste that can add a real zing to salads, soups, and sauces. Not only that but celery seeds can also be used as a substitute for the more exotic nigella seeds.
Nigella seeds have a similar flavor profile to celery seeds, with a slightly peppery taste. However, they can be difficult to find and are often quite expensive.
Celery seeds are a great alternative, and they can be easily found in most grocery stores. Just remember to use them sparingly, as their strong flavor can quickly overwhelm other ingredients.
8. Onion Flakes
Onion flakes are a common ingredient in many seasoning mixes, and they can also be used as a substitute for nigella seeds. Nigella seeds have a strong, pungent flavor that can be overwhelming in some dishes. Onion flakes will provide a similar flavor without being as overwhelming.
When substituting onion flakes for nigella seeds, use a 1:1 ratio. So, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of nigella seeds, use 1 tablespoon of onion flakes instead.
Keep in mind that onion flakes will not provide the same texture as nigella seeds. If texture is important in the dish you’re making, consider using a different substitution or leaving out the substitution altogether.
9. Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds are often used in Indian cooking, and they can be a great substitute for nigella seeds. Both have a similar flavor, with notes of anise and pepper.
Fennel seeds are slightly sweeter than nigella seeds, so you may want to use a little less if you’re making a savory dish. You can also toast the seeds before using them to bring out their flavor.
If you’re using fennel seeds as a replacement for nigella seeds in a recipe, it’s best to grind them first. This will help to release their flavor and make them easier to digest.
Whether you’re using fennel or nigella seeds, they’re a great way to add flavor to your dishes.
10. Cumin Seeds
Cumin seeds and nigella seeds are both popular spices that can be used to add flavor to a variety of dishes. While they share some similarities, they also have some notable differences.
Cumin seeds are much larger than nigella seeds, and they have a dark brown color. Nigella seeds, on the other hand, are small and black. In terms of flavor, cumin seeds are earthy and nutty, while nigella seeds have a more peppery taste.
If you’re out of nigella seeds and need a substitute, cumin seeds are a good option. Just be aware that they will impart a different flavor to your dish.
Why are they called nigella seeds?
Nigella seeds are so named because they come from the Nigella sativa plant. This plant is native to southwestern Asia, and it has been used for centuries in traditional medicine.
What does a nigella seed taste like?
Nigella seeds have a strong, pungent flavor that can be overwhelming in some dishes. They are often used in Indian cooking, and they can be a great substitute for fennel seeds.
Is black seed an antihistamine?
There is some evidence to suggest that black seeds may have antihistamine properties. However, more research is needed to confirm these effects.
Nigella seeds are a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different dishes. They have a strong, pungent flavor that can be overwhelming in some dishes. If you’re looking for a milder flavor, consider using a substitute like fennel seeds or onion flakes.
No matter which ingredient you choose, nigella seeds are a great way to add flavor to your dishes.