More uses for black cumin

Seasoning sambar with black cumin or Nigella sativa

In a previous posting, I summarized the various medicinal benefits for black cumin (kalonji, karim jeerakam, കരിം ജീരകം) and the importance attached to this seed, in the herbal-medicine practices of the Middle East and S. E. Asia.  Those who are not looking to take black cumin for a specific malady, but interested in the overall benefits of this spice, can incorporate black cumin in the seasoning procedure I outlined for the preparation of lentils.  When used as a spice, the amount consumed is small, compared to the amount of black cumin that is required to have medical benefits (as reported in the medical literature).

The seasoning procedure for sambar (A Short Course in Culinary Experiments, U7.1 – step 5) uses 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds.  This can be replaced by black cumin.  Please follow the seasoning tips outlined in the earlier post, in the making of dal.  With this amount of black cumin, there is only a minor alteration in the flavor of sambar.  Unlike mustard seeds, black cumin seeds do not burst open in hot oil.  Thus, their flavor is retained within the seed.  The mild bitter taste comes into fore only when you chew the black cumin seeds.

Another version of sambar, described in A Short Course in Culinary Experiments is the method U7.2, where the spices are blended in, prior to the seasoning stage.  I have not yet tried bending in black cumin in this procedure.  My expectation here is that the taste of black cumin will be much more pronounced than that the described for U7.1.  If you modify the U7.2 procedure with black cumin, please report your results in the comments section below, or write a separate blog-post.

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Posted in Unique Preparations, Vegetables

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