Nigella seeds (black seeds) are cultivated domestically in Morocco from the Nigella sativa plant and used as a spice, condiment and medicinal treatment. They have a slightly bitter and peppery quality with a mild oregano-like flavor. The seeds should be lightly toasted before using whole, crushed or ground.
In Morocco nigella is commonly referred to as sanouj. It is found in bread recipes such as Khobz Mzaweq; and as a mild seasoning in certain dishes, such as Chicken Tagine with Nigella Seeds. Nigella is also used in Indian, Middle Eastern and some European cooking.
In standard Arabic nigella is known by several names, including habbah sauda and habbah al-baraka. In various parts of the English speaking world, nigella seed is also known as black cumin, black sesame, black caraway, and black onion seed, although these names are often cited as misleading.
An Islamic hadith extols nigella as being "a cure for every disease except death." Indeed, traditional medicinal uses of black seed are extensive, including the treatment of skin conditions, respiratory infections, intestinal disorders and parasites, headaches, toothaches and more. Nigella helps promote lactation in nursing mothers and uterine contractions during labor, works as an insect repellent and is known to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Studies suggest it also inhibits cancer cell progression and boosts the immune system.