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Nigella sativa

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Nigella sativa (black caraway, also known as black cumin, nigella, and kalonji)<ref name=BSBI07>Template:Cite web</ref><ref name=GRIN/><ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> is an annual flowering plant in the family Ranunculaceae, native to south and southwest Asia.

N. sativa grows to Template:Convert tall, with finely divided, linear (but not thread-like) leaves. The flowers are delicate, and usually colored pale blue and white, with five to ten petals.

The fruit is a large and inflated capsule composed of three to seven united follicles, each containing numerous seeds which are used as spice, sometimes as a replacement for black cumin (Bunium bulbocastanum).

Etymology

The genus name Nigella is a diminutive of the Latin Template:Lang (black), referring to the seeds.<ref name=HyamPank95>Template:Cite book p. 341.</ref>

In English, N. sativa and its seed are variously called black caraway, black seed, black cumin, fennel flower, nigella, nutmeg flower, Roman coriander,<ref name=GRIN>Template:GRIN</ref> and kalonji (from Hindi-Urdu).<ref name=GB/>

Blackseed and black caraway may also refer to Bunium persicum.<ref>Bunium persicum - (Boiss.) B.Fedtsch. Common Name Black Caraway</ref>

Description

Culinary uses

The seeds of N. sativa are used as a spice in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. The black seeds taste like a combination of onions, black pepper, and oregano. They have a pungent, bitter taste and smell.<ref name=GB>Template:Cite book</ref>

The dry-roasted seeds flavor curries, vegetables, and pulses. They can be used as a "pepper" in recipes with pod fruit, vegetables, salads, and poultry. In some cultures, the black seeds are used to flavor bread products, and are used as part of the spice mixture panch phoron (meaning a mixture of five spices) and alone in many recipes in Bengali cuisine and most recognizably in naan.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Nigella is also used in Armenian string cheese, a braided string cheese called majdouleh or majdouli in the Middle East.

History

Archaeological evidence about the earliest cultivation of N. sativa is unrecorded,Template:Citation needed but N. sativa seeds were found in several sites from ancient Egypt, including Tutankhamun's tomb.<ref name="zohary">Template:Cite book</ref> Seeds were found in a Hittite flask in Turkey from the second millennium BCE.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>

N. sativa may have been used as a condiment of the Old World to flavor food.<ref name="zohary"/> The Persian physician, Avicenna, in his Canon of Medicine, described N. sativa as a treatment for dyspnea.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> N. sativa was used in the Middle East as a traditional medicine.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>

Chemistry

N. sativa oil contains linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, and trans-anethole, and other minor constituents.<ref name=GB/> Aromatics include thymoquinone, dihydrothymoquinone, p-cymene, carvacrol, α-thujene, thymol, α-pinene, β-pinene and trans-anethole. Oils are 32% to 40% of the total composition of N. sativa seeds.<ref name="gharby">Template:Cite journal</ref> The seeds also contain thymoquinone.<ref name=gharby/>

Research

One meta-analysis of clinical trials found weak evidence that N. sativa has a short-term benefit on lowering systolic and diastolic blood pressure, with limited evidence that various extracts of black seed can reduce triglycerides and LDL and total cholesterol, while raising HDL cholesterol.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>

References

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External links

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