Mamta's Kitchen

Forum Thread - substitute for kalonji

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rose, on 27/6/2006 08:08pm

is there a substitute for kalonji (nigella seeds)? I have a recipe here and can't find kalonji where i live.

AskCy, on 28/6/2006 09:40pm

They really have a flavour all of their own... but depending on what the recipe uses them for you might be able to substitute something..

I find adding them to naan bread adds a wonderful extra flavour but you could add something else but it wouldn't be the same taste..(corriander would make a great addition to naan as would fennel seeds, but neither taste like onion seeds.)

ps I'm not sure if there is any culinary difference but I'd guess a garden centre might have packets of onion seeds !

kennyliza, on 1/7/2006 08:06am

Rose, I'm not sure where you live, but I imagine you would be able to find a website that delivers them by mail order. I'd be very surprised if you couldn't. I don't think you can substitute them with any other spice they really have very unique flavour, as AskCy says.


Mamta, on 4/7/2006 05:08pm

As said by others, it has it's own flavour. Tell me what you are cooking, and I will tell you what else will work.

Steven, wouldn't bought onion seeds be treated with some sort of insecticides etc.?


AskCy, on 4/7/2006 09:15pm

Not sure about the treatment but you do eat the end product so maybe not ?

bdickinson05@aol, on 10/12/2007 06:40pm

I to cannot get them from suppermarket i would like to use them in a cranberry and apple compote for christmas so i to would like a substitute if their is one please thanks Sue

Lapis, on 10/12/2007 07:22pm

kalongi (nigella) are not onion seeds, although they have been called that many times, even Tescos call them that!. Please do not use onion seeds, especially from a garden centre, they may well have fungicide on them. Nigella seeds are from a plant related to 'love-in-a-mist' but although the seeds look similar, they taste differently (of strawberries/roses!).

AskCy, on 10/12/2007 09:41pm

The knowledge that this site attracts never ceases to amaze me ! Thanks for helping out with the onion seeds problem.


alan, on 8/2/2009 05:57pm

Although the flavor will be a bit different, In some recipes, you can substitute a mix of black and yellow mustard seeds for kalanji seeds.

mohd faseehuddin, on 25/2/2010 01:25pm

dear sir

alomist every body i have seen consfuse between kalonji seeds and onion seeds are quite different. mfs

Lapis, on 25/2/2010 03:44pm


thanks for your concern, but on this forum we have established that kalonji seeds are not onion seeds, see my post above.

But you are correct, most other people do confuse them, like so many other spices in Indian cooking.

Phil, on 25/2/2010 05:44pm

Thanks for this info. Goodness: even Madhur Jaffery calls them onion seeds. For some reason, I've never cooked with them. Must have a go.

Andrew, on 25/2/2010 10:03pm

I always knew them as 'wild onion seeds', but since reading this forum I've got to know them as Kalonji seeds. I use them quite a lot, especially in vegetable samosas, naan bread, and in certain vegetable curries.

Phil, on 26/2/2010 03:05pm

Thanks for the tip re samosas! I've 'ordered' some kalonji seeds from one of my brothers in Edinburgh, and look forward to using them. He too has made pickles with them before.

Mamta, on 27/2/2010 07:00am

Kalonji seeds give a dish a sort of 'pickle' style flavour. You can use them in place of cumin or mustard seeds when cooking various bhajies.

Anita, on 29/7/2013 05:25pm

I live in Ontario Canada I am crying out for some of these seeds where can I find them to put in my foods?

Mamta, on 30/7/2013 06:57am

There must be an Indian/Pakistani grocer in Ontario, they will have it. Or order on line from Indian stores in Canada/USA

Zosh, on 30/7/2013 07:23am

I got my health food shop to order them in specially for me. I had to pay up front but I now have 500 grams and that should last the rest of my lifetime! I would not suggest trying to find a substitute as they are not like anything else I have found but are necessary for the flavour in some of Mamtas pickles and of course lots of other dishes and breads.

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