Kalonji seeds are so beautiful!
Still, I do have a sort of outlier favorite spice... a special and infrequently used ingredient that I feel deserves more recognition: Nigella seeds, which are also known as Kalonji seeds. Have you ever had them? They are common in Indian and Middle Eastern food. I first learned about them many years ago from a vegan blogger who lived in the middle east. After reading about them on her blog and about how much she loved them, I was really curious. As soon as I finally found a chance to nab some, I did, and it was love at first sight/taste.
First of all, Kalonji seeds are so beautiful: they are deep deep black, as black as night. They are shaped like slightly angular sesame seeds, but their exterior is matte, which somehow makes the depth of their blackness even darker. Their flavor is strong and intense and unique! Their flavor is a bit bitter and a bit oniony. They are sometimes used in spice mixes, but they are probably most commonly used to top naan or other flat breads.
imaginary kalonji jewelry
see how beautifully black they are!?
So, inspired by the kalonji-on-bread-product idea, I went Multi-Cultural, and decided to make Kalonji Bagels. There's a Pesto Bagel recipe in 500 Vegan Recipes that I really like, but I didn't think pesto and kalonji were a match made in heaven... So I subbed out the pesto and used tahini instead. Tahini bagels!! Covered in Kalonji seeds!
One of the reasons that I wanted to make bagels has to do with this Kite Hill cream cheese. So far, it is only available in Whole Foods, so I am sorry to my international readers. I actually have a whole post about this stuff in the works for post-mofo. Spoiler alert: I AM IN LOVE. So, I needed a bagel.
Unfortunately, I am currently working my way through a substandard tub of tahini, and the tahini flavor didn't really come through that much. I welcome your tahini brand advice. Fortunately though, the bagels came out excellently in every other regard, and the Kalonji seeds were as fascinatingly pungent and bitter and flavorful as ever and these bagels are a big hit!
As a compulsive spice fan, I can't wait to read everyone else's spicy posts today!