Also called Kala Jeera this is a more rare form of cumin. Black Cumin is more subtle than brown cumin, the seeds are sweeter, smaller and have a more delicate taste. The first flavour is small, then it grows to a smokey black flavour like lapsang suchong. The after taste is slightly bitter with nuances of citrus and aniseed.
Black Cumin is used in many Indian curries and tandooris. To bring out the nutty flavour, the seeds are best toasted slightly before use.
Bunium persicum or black cumin is a plant in the family Apiaceae. It is used as a common culinary spice in Northern India, Tajikistan and Iran but outside these areas use is rare. There is a common confusion between Bunium persicum and Nigella Sativa which is also commonly called Kala Jeera and used predominantly in Bengali cookery. You can buy Nigella Sativa or Kalwonji here.
Black Cumin was discovered in Tutankhamen's tomb, implying that it played an important role in ancient Egyptian practices. Black Cumin's role in Egyptian culture is not fully understood, but it is known that items entombed that items placed in a kings tomb were selected as important for use in the afterlife. The earliest known reference to black cumin is in the Book of Isiah in the Old Testament where Isiah compares the differences between reaping wheat and black cumin.
When ingested, black cumin seeds and extracts can be used for a number of conditions. They have been used for centuries to treat digestive problems including stomach pain and flatulence. Black cumin seeds also have a long history in the natural treatment of asthma and other respiratory conditions. Compounds from the seeds appear to have antimicrobial properties, and are sometimes used to treat urinary tract infections. Oil from black cumin seeds can be used topically to treat dry skin, eczema and other skin issues. In addition, black cumin seeds are sometimes used in beauty regimens to strengthen hair and nails, as well as making them more glossy.
A beneficial tea can be made by infusing the seeds with boiling hot water.