Nigella seed (chernushka)

I am on a cooking spree. Indian cooking. Have been madly cooking out of my new favorite cookbook, 1,000 Indian Recipes, by Neelam Batra. For the second time, I made Indian bread and added nigella seeds. The recipes I used in both cases called for adding ajwain seeds. For some reason I always confused these two seeds, and have thought they are the same thing. They are not. I confused them because I have had breads with the black nigella seeds on them many times, and just assumed these were the seeds. It was a great mistake to make. I *love* this seed in bread. It adds this wonderful onion-y savory flavor to the bread that is like crack to me. I just cannot get enough.

I first discovered the black seed on the bagels at Zingerman’s, which I used to live across the street from in Ann Arbor. The chernushka bagels were amazing. Apparently these seeds are a traditional toping for jewish breads. I was so sad when they stopped making them. For years, I searched for the elusive seed. I found them again a few years ago when I was in Kyrgyzstan. I was so pleasently surprised to find that the traditional round bread (“naan”), made in a brick wood-fired oven, are studded with these amazing seeds. Now I can make my own bread with nigella. One of these days I’ll actually go buy some ajwain and try that too. But for now, I feed my nigella addiction.

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