Spices: Fennel Seeds


Fennel Seeds look a bit like cumin seeds (or vise versa), but are plumper and vibrant green when fresh and dull-greenish yellow-brown when dried. Their flavour is warm, sweet and liquorice or aniseed-like. The flavour mellows a little with roasting.

Similar to cumin seeds, they are larger and slightly more green. The seeds are used in Italy, China, the Middle East and India.

In Kashmir, they are often ground and used in conjunction with asafoetida powder and ginger powder for a host of dishes. In North and West Indian, the whole seeds are used in pickles, chutneys and snack foods. They are often dry roasted or flash fried in oil to enhance the flavour and aroma, and are used this way in the stir frying of vegetables in Bengal in East India, where they are also part of panch phoron. They are also part of the Chinese Five Spice Powder, and can form part of Garam Masala.

Fennel seeds are often eaten dry roasted after a meal to freshen the mouth and as a digestive. A refreshing tea can be made by infusing the seeds in hot water.

Feel free to browse recipes from our Retro Recipes series. You might also like our Spice information here. Or you might like to browse our Indian Essentials series here. Read the information on Fennel Bulbs and Fennel Herb here.

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