Sweet Nigella Spice Blend

You can (and should) put this on everything
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Sweet Nigella Spice Blend
Photo: Tasting Table

With Rosh Hashanah upon us, we asked Lior Lev Sercarz of La Boîte in NYC to develop a custom spice blend for us to step up our holiday dinner. Inspired to combine the flavors of Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jewish cultures, this spice blends the warmth of cinnamon and mace with the bright flavors of dried Persian limes and Urfa chile flakes.

Since some of these ingredients can be tricky to track down, we’ve included substitutions. Instead of dried Persian limes, you can use 1 tablespoon of ground sumac. And for the Urfa chile flakes, try using 1½ tablespoons of ancho chile powder.

To learn more, read “The Spice Savant.”

Sweet Nigella Spice Blend

Recipe adapted from Lior Lev Sercarz, La Boîte, New York, NY

Yield: About ½ cup

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes


1 tablespoon green cardamom pods

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

2 star anise

2 Ceylon cinnamon sticks, coarsely crushed

2 tablespoons whole nigella seeds

1½ tablespoons yellow mustard seeds

2 dried Persian limes

1½ tablespoons Urfa chile flakes

1 teaspoon ground mace


1. In a small sauté pan, add the cardamom pods, cumin seeds, star anise and cinnamon sticks over medium heat. Toast, stirring constantly until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a spice grinder to cool.

2. To the pan, add the nigella and mustard seeds, and toast until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the toasted seeds and the Persian limes to the spice grinder. Grind into a coarse powder. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in the chile flakes and mace to incorporate.

3. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year.

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