Monday, 12 July 2010


There’s a lot of confusion in Internet land about Black seed or Kalvanji, Kalonji etc and once again it took two of us, (and a spice seller to convince me), that the little black seeds I take when I have a muzzy feeling in my head-like an hour ago, are not, in fact black cumin seeds. They are quite different. Likewise, the little garden plant, Love-in –The-Mist, which has flowered in English gardens since Elizabethan times, is not the same plant but a relative. The Latin name for the British, self-propagating plant is Nigella Damascena. So please don’t be tempted to try the seeds from this plant instead of the real deal, Nigella Sativa.
So; Black Seeds have a long history, and are known as yet another cure all. The oil of these seeds was found in the tomb of Tutankhamen to assist him in the afterlife, it is supposed. It grows wild in the Mediterranean region and was known as Greek Coriander by the Romans, and Roman coriander by the Greeks. Dioscorides used it to treat headaches, nasal congestion, toothache and intestinal worms. Hippocrates recommended it for treatment of digestive and liver disorders, and in his ‘Canon of Medicine’ Ibn Sina (980-1037) said that it ‘stimulates the body’s energy and helps recovery from fatigue or dispiritedness’.
Recent research has shown that it can boost our immune system if taken over a period of time, and it has been claimed that it is especially effective when taken with garlic. It has been used in traditional medicine on the subcontinent to treat asthma and bronchial problems, and it is generally believed that the oil is good for eczema and to get rid of boils. It was also supposed to help if you were bitten by a rabid dog.
The Arabs call it habbatul barakah, or ‘seed of healing’. It’s an ingredient of Bangladeshi panch phoran or five spice powder, which is made from black seed, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds and fennel seeds in equal amounts and this can also contain thyme and black pepper. This mixture needs to be fried in mustard oil for authenticity. It’s used as a condiment in India, as well as in cooking.
If you take half a teaspoon of the seeds every day you should escape colds, flu, back pain, sore throats and in general helps the immune system. There’s a story of a man going to a holy man to seek advice because his son had a stomach complaint. The holy man told him to give his son half a teaspoon of the black seeds, mixed with a spoon of honey. The man went back the next day and said that his son was still not well. The holy man told him to do the same as the day before. When the man returned on the third day, the holy man told him that his son was lying, so confident was he that the remedy was effective.

300 gr boiled and cubed potatoes
1 tbsp black seeds
1 tsp red chilli powder
mint leaves, shredded
2 tbsps fresh coriander leaves
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsps oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the oils in a pan and add the seeds and chilli powder. Fry for a minute over a low heat, stirring not to let them burn. Add the potatoes in the pan with the spices for 5 mins or more, until they are coated with the spices, and turning colour, but not crispy.
Add the fresh leaves and fry for 1 min, stirring so that they release their aroma.
Remove from the heat and serve with any meat and a salad.
This has Taste and is a Treat.


  1. Hi Abbas,

    I think the 'holy man' you refer to is the Prophet of Islam (SAW) as this is in the authentic Hadeeth and also in 'Medicines of the Prophet'

    Thanks for an informative site...v interesting

  2. Yeah Kalonji is really important in Muslim medicine. Thanks for the information.


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  7. Which has more medicinal benefits - Black cumin seed or Kalonji?

  8. How to identify the black cumin seeds?


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