Nigella sativa grows to 20–30 cm (7.9–11.8 in) tall, with finely divided, linear (but not threadlike) leaves. The flowers are delicate, and usually colored pale blue and white, with five to ten petals.
The black caraway 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.
The seeds of Nigella 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.
The genus name Nigella is a diminutive of the Latin Niger (black), referring to the seeds
In English, Nigella sativa and its seed are variously called black-caraway, black-cumin, fennel-flower, Nigella, nutmeg-flower, Roman-coriander, and Kalonji (from Hindi).
Blackseed and black caraway may also refer to Bunium persicum
The dry-roasted Nigella seeds flavor curries, vegetables and pulses. It 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. It is also used as part of the spice mixture Panch phoron (meaning a mixture of five spices) and by itself in many recipes in Bengali cuisine and most recognizably in nan bread.Nigella is also used in Armenian string cheese, a braided string cheese calledmajdouleh or majdouli in the Middle East.