Kalonji refers to the small black seeds of the Love-in-a-Mist plant. Sometimes they are confused with "onion" seeds or black cumin or caraway. The seeds are deep black and sharp-cornered.
Kalonji seeds are reported to be beneficial for the respiratory system. They have also been shown to have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Original black cumin (Carum bulbocastanum) is rarely available, so N. sativa is widely used instead; (in India, Carum carvi is the substitute). Cumins are from Apiaceae or Umbelliferae (both names are allowed by the ICBN) family, but N. sativa is from Ranunculaceae family. Black cumin (not N. sativa) seeds come as paired or separate carpels, and are 3-4mm long. They have a striped pattern of nine ridges and oil canals, and are fragrant (Ayurveda says, "Kaala jaaji sugandhaa cha" (black cumin seed is fragrant itself), blackish in colour, boat-shaped, and tapering at each extremity, with tiny stalks attached; it has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, both as a herb and pressed into oil, in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. It has been traditionally used for a variety of conditions and treatments related to respiratory health, stomach and intestinal health, kidney and liver function, circulatory and immune system support, as analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiallergic, antioxidants, anticancer, antiviral and for general well-being
Crushed kalonji has an aroma somewhat like oregano. They are normally used whole, mainly in breads. The seeds taste pleasantly bitter and slightly pungent.
Kalonji seeds are generally sauteed in Ghee or dry-roasted to release the aroma and flavor and then added to vegetable dishes.
Cultivation of black seed has been traced back more than 3,000 years to the kingdom of the Assyrians and ancient Egyptians. A bottle of black cumin oil was found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun, perhaps to protect the ruler in the afterlife.
Black cumin was a vital ingredient in many Egyptian dishes. Physicians of the pharaohs used the seeds as a digestive aid after opulent feasts and as a remedy for colds, headaches, toothaches, infections, inflammatory disorders and allergies. Black seed oil has been a beauty secret of women since ancient times. Queen Nefertiti, praised for her exquisite complexion, was an avid user of black seed oil.
Pliny the Elder crushed black seeds, mixed them with vinegar and honey, and applied the paste to snake bites and scorpion stings.
Black cumin and its oil have been used to purge parasites and worms, detoxify, ameliorate amoebic dysentery, shigellosis, abscesses, old tumors, ulcers of the mouth and rhinitis. Recent research confirms these uses for humans, dogs, cats and horses.
More than 200 university studies conducted since 1959 attest to the effectiveness of traditional uses of black seed. The essential oil of N. sativa seeds is antimicrobial and successful in the ratification of intestinal worms. In vitro studies in Jordan and the United States have shown its volatile oil to be anti-leukemic. Other studies suggest this same active ingredient may serve as an immune-system booster and is proven effective in treating asthma and whooping cough.
Black seed is a complex substance of more than 100 compounds, some of which have not yet been identified or studied. A combination of fatty acids, volatile oils and trace elements are believed to contribute to its effectiveness. As for all the benefits packed into this tiny seed waiting to be discovered, ongoing research will have to judge.
English = Nigella, love-in-a-mist, fennel flower, black cumin, black caraway, black coriander, black seed English, Old (also in King James Version of the Bible) = Fitch
Finnish = Neidonkuka
French = Cheveux de venus, Nigelle or Faux cumin
German = Schwarzhuemmel, later protvurz or brotchrut
Greek, Ancient = Melánthion or meláspermom
Hebrew = Ketzah
Hindi and Urdu = Kalonji
Indian = Nutmeg flower
Italian = Nigela
Persian = Schonaiz
Sri Lankan = Kaladuru
Assamese =: kaljeera or kolajeera
Bengali = kalo jeeray
Kannada = Krishna Jeerige
Tamil = karum cheerakam
Telugu = Nalla Jirakara
Malayalam = karim jeerakam
Singala = Karto Jeera
Hindi = Kalonji / mangrail
Indonesian = jintan hitam
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