Glancing through the Two Popular Spices that are Often Mistaken for Each Other!

Do you get confused over the terms black seeds and black cumin seeds? Well, you’re not the only one. Despite being completely different spices, the two terms are often used interchangeably. The primary difference between black seeds and black cumin seeds is that while black seeds also known by the name of kalaunji are Nigella sativa, the black cumin seeds are either Bunium bulbocastanum or Nigella sativa. Moreover, the flavor and usage of the organic cumin seeds and black seeds vary. Still, due to their similar looks, they’re often mistaken for each other.

Let’s learn more about the two seeds to understand them better:

Black seeds

Black seeds are an interesting spice that has been in use for years in cuisines as well as for therapeutic purposes. Slightly bitter in taste, it has a flavor resembling a mix of onion and oregano. When used for tempering, it gives a wonderful aroma to the dishes and a tinge of flavor that simply makes it worth relishing.

While in the Middle East these are common ingredients in confectionery items and salads, in India, dry roasted kalonji is often used for flavouring curries, in stir-fried vegetables, and even savouries such as samosa and kachori among others.

Besides flavour and aroma, the tiny dark black seeds are also known to offer a lot of health benefits. Loaded with trace elements, vitamins, crude fiber, iron, sodium, potassium and calcium and more, the black seeds have been described as the remedy to almost all diseases.

When consumed rightly, it can work wonders for your health. It is good for keeping your heart healthy, addresses respiratory issues, provides lubrication to the joints, and is also known to have anti-carcinogenic properties.

In fact, a bottle of kalonji oil or kalaunji seeds at home can act as a best friend for your health as it will take care of your niggling day to day problems like acne, headaches, diabetes, teeth and gum issues etc.

Black cumin seeds

Derived from a plant species known as Apiaceae, black cumin seeds are known by the name of black jeera or shahi zeera in India.  Although often confused with black seeds, black cumin seeds are quite different from the former. Organic black cumin seeds are elongated, thinner seeds with fine black lines on them while black seeds are darker and triangular in shape.

The black cumin seeds have strong and distinctive flavor of cumin and aniseed. The widely used spice has a pungent taste of cumin and a tinge of sweetness of aniseed. It’s used in the preparation of various dishes including vegetables, curries, biryanis etc. An important ingredient to Indian garam masala, the black cumin seeds are excellent natural flavoring and seasoning spices.

The black cumin seeds are also associated with certain health benefits. It is good for digestion and is often known to be quite effective in problems related to bloating, gas, loss of appetite etc.


Both the seeds – black seeds and black cumin seeds are flavorsome and nutritive spices. At times these can also be used as replacements for each other but to enjoy their authentic flavors it’s best to choose the appropriate seeds.