Kalonji Dal – Nigella Seed Dal

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Last Updated on December 14, 2020 by Chef Mireille

Kalonji Dal – Nigella Seed Dal

Also known as black onion seed, this simple Bengali style dal infused with just kalonji, chillies and tomatoes is quick and easy to compliment all of your Indian meals.

plate of Kalonji dal with rice and raita

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Nigella seeds, also known as black onion seed or kalonji, are used frequently in Indian and Middle Eastern cultures. Despite its many health benefit, it is difficult to find in America, unless you go to one of these cultural markets or gourmet/health food markets.

It is not a standard spice on our supermarket shelves, although it should be!

Kalonji Health Benefits

Kalonji – Nigella Seed has many health benefits that include helping to combat some conditions and diseases that include the list below

  • Asthma
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Malaria

Indian food, just like food of any nation, is regional. Even in some parts of India, kalonji is unknown or little used. However, this spice is used often in Bengali cuisine.

Bengali Cuisine

In addition to kalonji, other spices that characterize Bengali cuisine are cinnamon, bay leaves, mustard oil and poppy seeds.

Spices are usually left whole in Bengali food and rarely ground.

Also fish and seafood play a major part of a Bengali daily diet. As they are a coastal state, they have a wide variety of fish available in their waters.

Bengali History

Bengal lies on India’s northeastern coast. This state was the stage of many revolutionary activities during India’s fight for independence. Kolkata, (formerly Calcutta), was at the center of India’s quest to end England’s British Raj regime.

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As India earned it’s independence, Bengal was divided into West Bengal (India) and East Bengal (Pakistan). The state continued to be filled with violence and unrest for the following decades as East Bengal achieved full independence and became the country of Bangladesh in 1971. Conflict still continued to plague the region for many years. Stabilization finally was achieved when parliamentary democracy occurred in 1991.

Now that you know a little history about the region, it’s time to dive deep into Bengali cuisine. To that end, check out some of my other Bengali Recipes before we get to today’s Kalonji Dal – Nigella Seed Dal.

Bengali Recipes

  • Lao Bori – Bottle Gourd Curry
  • Chingri Macher Kalia – Shrimp Potato Curry
  • Phulkopir Razala – Bengali Cauliflower Yogurt Curry
  • Aloo Posto – Bengali Potato Poppy Seed Curry
  • Green Pea Paratha
  • Bengali Thali
    • Borar Jhol – Lentil Dumplings in Tomato Gravy
    • Borar Jhal – Lentil Dumplings in Mustard Gravy
    • Chingri Kalia – Shrimp Onion Curry
    • Cholar Dal – Coconut Milk Dal
    • Panta Bhat – Rice Salad
    • Achari Paratha
    • Orange Kheer – Orange Milk Pudding
Dal LR 3

This creamy dal can be part of a simple Vegetarian meal with rice and raita!

Dal LR 5
plate of Kalonji Dal - Nigella Seed Da with rice and raita
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3 from 2 votes

Kalonji Dal – Nigella Seed Dal

Kalonji Dal – Nigella Seed Dal – This Bengali dal is simple and easy with just chillies, kalonji (black onion seed) and tomatoes. Just 20 minutes and you have dal to eat with all of your Indian meals.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Bengali
Servings: 8 people


  • 2 cups masoor dal red lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon mustard oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black onion seed/nigella black onion seed
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • 2 green chiles thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoon cilantro finely chopped
  • salt to taste


  • Combine lentils and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until lentils are tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Using one of my favorite kitchen gadgets – my trusty immersion blender, puree the cooked lentils about 75%.
  • In a skillet, heat oil. Add kalonji and chiles and cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until tomatoes turn soft and mushy.
  • Add to dal with cilantro and salt.
  • Stir to combine.
Did you try this recipe? Leave a comment below.Please follow me on Instagram @chefmireille or tag me #chefmireille with your pics! I’d love to share them!
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Need more culinary inspiration? Check out the Recipe Index with over 1500 Recipes from Around the World with lots of Vegetarian 🥕🍆🍅and Gluten Free Recipes!

Thank you for sharing!

About Chef Mireille

Chef Mireille is a NYC based freelance chef instructor and food photographer. Due to her very diverse family background, she was able to travel and learn about global cultures and flavors from a young age. Her passion for culture, cooking, history and education had made her an expert on developing traditional globally inspired recipes & delicious fusion cuisine.
Her extensive travel history provides a plethora of background information and Travel Tips!

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Reader Interactions


  1. Ester Mina Silinsky

    Yummy! We were looking for a recipe that featured black cumin, or ‘ketach’ as it is called here, and vegan also. I made it without the oil – it was delish.

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