[Photograph: Max Falkowitz] Charnushka is great in spice blends and complex simmered dishes, but it's simpler dishes like these that show off all it can do. Here it's used as a substitute for black pepper as a more interesting, less...
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Charnushka is a spice that goes by many names: nigella sativa, onion seed, kaloji. Figuring out what exactly it is takes a while. It's the seed of a flower (though not an onion) that looks like something aliens dropped off on a recent visit. But as weird as it seems, and as unassuming but decidedly odd as it smells, it's an incredibly versatile spice that's easy to love.