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, and pungent. The flavour mellows a little with roasting.
You might like to read the information on Fennel Bulbs and the Fennel Herb . Feel free to browse information and vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 1995 – 2006 in the Retro Recipes series. Explore our Spice information here. Or browse the Indian Essentials series.
Similar to cumin seeds, fennel seeds are larger and slightly more green. The seeds are used in Italy, China, the Middle East and India. They combine well with cumin and coriander seeds, two other cooling spices.
In India, fennel seeds are served after a sumptuous meal – they are often eaten dry roasted to freshen the mouth and as a digestive. A refreshing tea can be made by infusing the seeds in hot water.
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.
It is said in Ayurveda that fennel is a universal balance of doshas.It is considered a digestive rejuvenator, activating proper digestive functions when needed and reducing the digestive fire (pita) when over stimulated. It calms the mind yet prompts alertness.