5 Best Nigella Seeds Substitutes

Nigella Seeds
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Nigella seeds are one of the spices used since ancient times. These seeds come from nigella sativa, also called black cumin or kalonji. This plant originates from Eastern Europe and Western Asia, but today it's used in many countries as a top spice for various dishes.

Nigella Seeds

If you tried meals with these seeds once and want to make the same, but don't have seeds, here are some substitutes for nigella seeds you can try.

There are delicious substitutes for nigella seeds, such as sesame seeds, cumin seeds, oregano, etc. So let's see what suitable substitutes are and how to use them.

What Are Nigella Seeds?

Nigella seeds are tiny black seeds that have an original taste and are used as a spice for many dishes. We often use them with vegetables, salads, legumes, and meat. If we fry them and add dry curry and legumes, we will add a pleasant taste and an original aroma.

Nigella Seeds plant and flower

We can also use these seeds with pastries and bread products. In this case, it's often used as part of a five-spice mixture (panch phoron). Sprinkle the baked goods with these seeds to enrich their taste.

Besides having a great look and taste, these nigella seeds are also healthy. They contain many antioxidants that lower cholesterol, reduce inflammatory processes, help regulate blood sugar, and play an essential role in cancer prevention. Well, let's see what these healthy seeds taste like.

What Do Nigella Seeds Taste Like?

These tiny nigella seeds have a slightly bitter taste with some bitterish and other earthy notes. However, they have a strong aroma and flavor that contains nuances of onion, oregano, and cumin.

Also, if you concentrate well on the taste, you can feel that peppery, complex aroma and taste that goes well with salty dishes.

Best Substitutes for Nigella Seeds

But if you don't have nigella seeds and can't get them, try replacing them with equally aromatic and flavored seeds or spices. The best substitutes for nigella seeds are black sesame seeds and oregano, and let's see them all.

1. Black Sesame Seeds

Black Sesame Seeds

One of the best substitutes for nigella seeds is certainly black sesame seeds. These seeds are just as black and tiny, but they also have a crunchy texture and piquant, nutty flavor like nigella seeds. That's why it will work great as a substitute for cooked dishes, vegetables, and bread (e.g., naan bread).

When you use them as a substitute, you won't feel too much difference in the dishes. In addition, like nigella seeds, these seeds are healthy and rich in antioxidants and fiber. So they meet all the conditions.

1 teaspoon of black sesame seeds:1 teaspoon of nigella seeds.

2. Oregano

Dried Oregano

Oregano is the second-best alternative to nigella seeds because these two types of seeds have a similar aroma and taste. Yet, oregano has a sweet-bitter taste. Precisely because of its similarity with nigella seeds, we can use oregano in all cooked and baked dishes, salads, vegetable dishes, or curries. A good example is the instant pork chops and potatoes.

The good news is that oregano is readily available, and you can get it at any grocery store. In addition, oregano is much easier to get than nigella seeds, so you have an excellent alternative.

1 tablespoon of oregano:1 teaspoon of nigella seeds.

3. White Sesame Seeds

White Sesame Seeds

Although it doesn't have a black color, white sesame seeds have a similar taste that can be used as a good substitute for nigella seeds. They have a great nutty flavor that goes well with many dishes, and their texture is similar to nigella seeds. So you can use them for fried potatoes, bakery products, and salads, like instant pot baked potatoes for example.

In addition, they are rich in healthy nutrients such as calcium and magnesium, so in addition to all that, they are also a healthy substitute that will complement your meals.

1 teaspoon of white sesame seeds:1 teaspoon of nigella seeds

4. Cumin Seeds

Cumin Seeds

Cumin seeds are another food with a flavor profile similar to nigella seeds, which is why we can use them as a substitute. These dark brown seeds have a strong earthy flavor that is used as a spice for many dishes. It goes best with cooked dishes, rice dishes, curries, and many others.

Because of its earthy and nutty flavor, cumin seeds are an excellent substitute for nigella seeds. Although you won't have identical black seeds, the taste that your dish will take on is essential, and you won't go wrong with cumin seeds. Just be aware that these seeds are a bit sharper and stronger tasting than nigella seeds.

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds:1 tablespoon of nigella seeds,

5. Caraway Seeds

Caraway Seeds

Finally, another seed with a similar earthy and peppery taste and serves as a super substitute for nigella seeds - caraway seeds. You can use them in all dishes where nigella seeds are usually used, and your dish will be rich in flavors and aromas. For example, you can use them in curries, bread, or stir-fries.

Caraway seeds are also known for their health benefits, so you will have a win-win situation.

1 teaspoon of caraway seeds:1 teaspoon of nigella seeds

A Table of The Best Substitutes for Nigella Seeds

Substitutes Characteristics Recommended for
Black Sesame Seeds Black Color; Piquant Nutty Flavor Salads, Vegetable Dishes, Rice Dishes, Meat Dishes.
Oregano Green Color; Bit Sweet and Bitter Flavor Marinades, Chicken and Beef Dishes, Sauces, Baked Goods, Stir-fries, Stews
White Sesame Seeds White Color; Nutty Flavor Baked Goods, Stir-fries, Salads
Cumin Seeds Brown Color; Slightly Earthy Nutty Flavor; Strong Taste Curry, Stews, Soups, Rice Dishes, Bread, Spice Blends
Caraway Seeds Brown Color; Earth, Peppery, and Citrusy flavor Curry, Stir-fries, Bread, Stews, Vegetable Dishes; Toppings

Use all the alternatives above in 1:1 ratio.

These are just some ingredients you can substitute for nigella seeds.

Although it is always challenging to find an adequate substitute for nigella seeds, they are worth using. Using these seeds in your kitchen will discover a new dimension of taste that will delight you. So try some of them and enjoy.

Nigella Seeds FAQ

What Are Nigella Seeds?

Nigella seeds are tiny black seeds that have an original taste and are used as a spice for many dishes. We often use them with vegetables, salads, legumes, meat, and curry.

What Does Nigella Seeds Taste Like?

Nigella seeds have a slightly bitter taste with a bit of sharpness, a strong aroma, and a taste that contains notes of onion, oregano, and cumin.

What Is the Best Substitute for Nigella Seeds?

The best substitutes for nigella seeds are black sesame seeds and oregano. Besides, excellent substitutes are white sesame, cumin, and caraway seeds.

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