|Shahi jeera/black cumin|
This is the uncommon spice variously called shahi jeera, black cumin, Kashmiri jeera, Himali jeera, Koshur zur, or kala jeera. Shahi means royal or fit for a king. Shah is a word of Persian derivative and means high king. If you add an "i" to the end of any Hindi or Urdu noun it becomes an adjective. Jeera (or zeera in Urdu) means cumin and is a word of Persian origin meaning fragrant or of pleasant aroma. So "shahi jeera" translates to "royal cumin."
|Flowers of Bunium persicum|
(The shahi jeera plant)
|Pahalgam Valley, Kashmir|
Shahi jeera/black cumin close up for comparison-
|Shahi Jeera/Black cumin|
|These are caraway seeds.|
Nigella seeds/kalonji are from the plant Nigella sativa. Often confusingly called black cumin or onion seeds these matte black pyramidal shaped seeds taste like oregano.
|These are nigella or kalonji seeds.|
A good substitute for shahi jeera just would be cumin in a lesser amount. Cumin is closest in flavor to shahi jeera but much stronger. Do NOT use caraway seeds or nigella/kalonji as they have entirely different flavor.