Using Black Cumin Seeds (Shahi Jeera) in Indian Cooking
Shai Jeera looks very similar to the cumin seeds but is finer and darker in colour and has a crescent shape. It is often confused with other spices such as Nigella Sativa which can also be called black cumin (confusing or what!) but Nigella is a black seed that is totally unrelated to this spice. Often also confused with caraway (which has a very different flavour and cumin which is bigger and more robust in flavour. Shahi Jeera is however related to cumin and they are both seeds from plants in the parsley family.
Shahi jeera's scientific name is Bunium Persicum and it is native to Central Asia and Northern India where it is widely used for adding flavour to rice and meat. It has milder flavour than cumin but is rich with a sweet, floral tone, used whole the seeds adds a nuttiness to your dish.
Aswell as being used in the kitchen it is also pressed to yield an essential oil that has applications in traditional medicine as its known to have properties that help with digestive issues and skin contiltions.
I like to use this in mild, lightly flavoured dishes such as those with a malahi or creamy sauce. In India the seeds are baked into breads, steamed in rice, added to spice pastes and used to make masala spice blends to add a distinct aromatic. These seeds can be substituted for cumin seeds