Kalonji is an herbaceous annual of the buttercup family. Its seed (also known as “black seed”) has been consumed for centuries, especially in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Known by various names such as “Habat-Ul-Sauda” and “Kalonji”, it’s both a spice and traditional medicine. The seeds have little aroma but when ground or chewed they develop a vaguely oregano-like scent. The taste is aromatic and slightly bitter. The seeds also contain a fatty oil rich in unsaturated fatty acids, mainly linoleic acid (50 – 60%), oleic acid (20%), eicodadienoic acid (3%) and dihomolinoleic acid (10%) which is characteristic for the genus. Saturated fatty acids (palmitic, stearic acid) amount to about 30% or less. aromatic flavour is due to thymoquinone which is major essential oil.
Kallonji seed (Nigella sativa) oil extracts have been used for many centuries for the treatment of many human illnesses, and more recently the active compound found in black seed oil, viz. thymoquinone (TQ) has been tested for its efficacy against several diseases including cancer. treat a range of hepatic and digestive disorders, as well as fever, headaches and skin diseases. Finally kalonji seeds and/or its components exhibit.
“A number of pharmacological effects of profound therapeutic value, like: Analgesic, Anti-inflammatory, Antihistaminic, Anti-allergic, Anti-oxidant, Anti-cancer, Immune stimulation, Anti-asthmatic, Antihypertensive, Hypoglycemic, Anti-bacterial, Antifungal, Anti-viral and Anti-parasitic.”
Kaloonji is one of the five spices in the Bengali five spices or punch pooran. It is widely used as an ingredient in Indian cooking, in dhal and vegetable dishes, pickles and chutneys. In Middle Eastern kitchens the seeds are scattered over bread and cakes and the seeds mixed with sesame seeds for the same purpose.