Black cumin

Black cumin – the aromatic pepper substitute

Black cumin is also called NigellaNigella sativa

It comes from Asia and the Middle East, where it is used as a universal seasoning, like pepper in our country. Nowadays it is also cultivated in the Mediterranean region and in Austria. It is neither related to cumin nor to caraway and it also has a completely different taste. Black cumin tastes nutty and tart. About like a mixture of poppy seeds, pepper and oregano. It is used in India for pulses and vegetables, in the Middle East and in Turkey for bread.

But actually, you can use it wherever you like pepper.

To enhance its aroma, you can dry-roast it.

You can also find it in various spice blends, for example in Panch Phoron.


Panch Phoron

This is an Indian spice mixture which tastes very good with pulses, vegetables and potatoes. The five spices in it are unground and you should fry them before adding the other ingredients.

The Panch Phoron contains five spices in equal parts: Cumin seeds, black cumin seeds, brown mustard seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds and, as I said, all unground.

Personally, I prefer them ground. I put the mixture in a pepper mill and grind it directly over the vegetables – very tasty!


Black cumin is also used to make oil, which is said to have a healing effect on various diseases.


But here comes a recipe with black cumin!

pane al cumino nero

Black cumin bread

The black cumin rolls taste very good if you cover them with a hearty topping. Or as a side dish with hummus.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 40 mins
Servings 30 rolls


  • 1 kg wheat flour
  • 7,5 dl lukewarm water
  • 20 g salt
  • 50 g yeast
  • 20 g honey
  • 2 Tbsp black cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil


  • Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  • Mix flour, yeast, black cumin, salt, honey and olive oil in a bowl.
  • Then add the water and knead everything together to a soft dough. Cover the dough in a bowl with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out too much. Then let the dough rise to the double (1-2 hour). On a floured work surface divide the dough and form small rolls. Place the rolls on a baking tray covered with baking parchment and bake for about 30 minutes.
  • Instead of small rolls you can of course bake a whole bread, just like I did. In this case the baking time is extended to about 45 minutes. The bread is fully baked when it sounds "hollow" when you knock on it.

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