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Definition of Charnushka

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Charnushka Sprinkled on Kolacz

Charnushka Sprinkled on Kolacz

© 2010 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Definition: Charnushka is the Russian word for "black seed" and refers to the seeds of a Southwest Asian flowering plant known as nigella sativa.

They are also known as kaloji, black onion seed, black cumin, Roman coriander, and black caraway, but their flavor in no way resembles that of onion, cumin, coriander or caraway seeds. Charnushka has a pungent, slightly bitter, smoky, peppery flavor and crunchy texture. Heating them in oil or toasting them releases their flavor.

Charnushka is also known as chernishke in Yiddish, and schwarzkummel in German, both literal for "black seeds," and are commonly used in Armenian, Egyptian, European, Indian, Israeli, Lebanese, Middle Eastern, Polish, Serbian, and Russian cooking. Eastern European and Middle Eastern bakers use them in and on top of sweet and savory yeast breads, like Jewish rye, and Indians like them in the spice blend known as paanch phoran and other applications.

Charnushka / nigella has been used since ancient times as a medicine by Asians and for cooking by the Romans. The name nigella derives from the Latin nigellus, or niger, meaning black. The spice is native to western Asia and Southern Europe where it is cultivated and grows in the wild.

Here is more about nigella.
Pronunciation: charrr-NOOSH-kah
Also Known As:

French - cheveux de Venus, nigell, poivrette
German - schwarzkummel
Indian - kala zeera, kalonji, krishnajiraka
Italian - nigella
Polish - czarnuszką
Russian - charnushka
Spanish - neguilla
Yiddish - chernishke
Examples:
I sprinkled charnushka on top of my Polish kolacz before I popped it in the oven.
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