Nigella sativa (black caraway, also known as black cumin, nigella, or kalonji) is an annual flowering plant in the family Ranunculaceae, native to south and southwest Asia.
The seeds of N. sativa are used as a spice in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines, and also in Polish cuisine. The black seeds taste like a combination of onions, black pepper, and oregano. They have a pungent, bitter taste and smell. In Palestine the seeds are ground to make bitter qizha paste.
The dry-roasted seeds flavor curries, vegetables, and pulses. They can be used as a seasoning in recipes with pod fruit, vegetables, salads, and poultry. In some cultures, the black seeds are used to flavor bread products, and are used as part of the spice mixture panch phoron (meaning a mixture of five spices) and alone in many recipes in Bengali cuisine and most recognizably in naan. Nigella is also used in Armenian string cheese, a braided string cheese called majdouleh or majdouliin the Middle East.