Can anyone explain the difference between nigella and black cumin? I've found some recipes that say they are the same thing, but on my quick google search I found pages that say they are different. Any thoughts?
they are 2 different things. here's some good info on each.
nigella, sometimes called black onion seeds, have a bitterness like mustard; black cumin is shaped more like white cumin and has a richer flavor
Wow, I though I knew the answer to this one, but upon googling there seem to be many meanings of "black cumin". I've never heard nigella (botanical name Nigella sativa) called black cumin, but *according to wikipedia* it happens. I've bought nigella labeled kalonji, the Hindi name. I always assumed black cumin meant the thinner, darker cumin/jeera (botanical name Bunium persicum) available at Indian groceries as opposed to standard cumin, which is fatter and tanner (botanical name Cuminum cyminum). I guess this is the sort of confusion we get when we start renaming ingredients, like calling cilantro "Chinese parsley".
I find it's often easier to look for black cumin under its Hindi name, kala jeera. In my experience, most spice markets label it "kala jeera," probably to keep away from the confusion of a purely descriptive name.