Nigella seeds, with their peppery crunch and healing powers, occupy a special place in my spice rack. During the time of Prophet Muhammad, these seeds were revered as “a remedy for every disease, except death.” Their curative properties have been recognized for thousands of years; they were found in King Tut’s tomb, an accompaniment to the afterlife.
Modern research has shown that nigella seeds contain a potent antioxidant called thymoquinone, a compound yet to be detected in any other plant. Nigella seeds boost immunity against viruses and tumors, and can help treat heart disease. They are also a powerful anti-inflammatory and can alleviate symptoms of asthma and allergies, among other conditions. (Source: Healing Spices)
You may have tasted these seeds before on Indian naan bread or in mango chutney. I find they add interesting flavor and texture to breads, potatoes, and sweets. They also are very transportable — you can order them online or find them at your local Indian or Middle Eastern market (just beware that they might be called by their alternative names of kalonji, black cumin seeds, or onion seeds).
This is a recipe that has become my standby when I’m craving nigella seeds. Sweet potatoes, oven-roasted in olive oil, are a great accompaniment to that peppery bite. Simply peel and cut the sweet potatoes into spears, coat with olive oil, sea salt & pepper and place across a metal baking sheet, sprinkle some nigella seeds, and roast for about 45 minutes at 375 F (190 C).