Sunday, September 27, 2015

VeganMoFo Day 27: Tahini Bagels with Kalonji Seeds!

Today's MoFo Prompt: "Favorite herb or spice?"

The first spice I thought of was cumin. Cumin is truly a standby for me, and every once in a while I go to get the cumin and I'm actually OUT of cumin (??!!) and I just can't believe it. Luckily, I always have back up cumin seeds to grind... so in actual fact, I will never be truly out of cumin. I use cumin in Mexican-inspired dishes, in Indian dishes, and even when I cook up beans or lentils. I just love it so much. So, let's take a moment to appreciate cumin. I also love coriander (dried and fresh!). And black pepper. You may recall that one year I blogged about a different spice every day for 30 days for my MoFo theme... so I obviously like spices a lot.

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!

kalonji pals

As a compulsive spice fan, I can't wait to read everyone else's spicy posts today!


  1. Anonymous1:02 PM

    Interesting, the WF here has Treeline and Heidi Ho products but no Kite Hill! I am frequently disappointed in tahini, so if you get any good recommendations please definitely report on them!

    jen e.

  2. Kalonji rock!!! Love them!

  3. Anonymous6:23 AM

    Yeah! This reminds me I have kalonji seeds in the back of my cupboard!

  4. I've bought kalonji seeds for someone once, but I've never used them in my kitchen.

    A Syrian reader recommended that I put vegan cheese and kalonji seeds in a vegan croissant and heat it until the cheese melts. I'm definitely going to try that.

    I've never made bagels! Yours seem really good.

  5. I have heard of nigella seeds but I don't think that I have actually ever used them. They look lovely.

  6. I have these seeds, but I haven't tried them in anything besides Indian food. I'll give this a try next time I make bagels!


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