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Fennel Seed

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Definition: Also known as saunf, fennel seed is the seed of the Foeniculum vulgare plant. It is produced by a hardy, perennial herb with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. Although it first appeared along the shores of the Mediterranean, where it has a long history as a food ingredient and medicinal herb, fennel is now widespread in many parts of the world (including the United States, where it is considered to be an invasive species). Both fennel seeds and the fennel plant have many culinary uses.

The fennel seed has an aniseed-like flavor. This is because it contains anethole, an aromatic compound also found in anise and star anise.

Culinary Uses of Fennel Seed

Fennel seed is commonly used in Moroccan, Indian, Pakistani, Iranian and other cuisines. It can be used is sweet foods, savory foods and complexly flavored foods foods and spice mixtures such as candied / sweetened fennel (mukhwas, a common after-meal breath freshener in India), savory-sweet Moroccan tagine and Chinese Five Spice Powder. In addition to anise, its versatile flavor is often compared to licorice.

Medicinal Uses of Fennel Seed Tea

Fennel seed tea is an important part of Ayurveda and Panch Karma, as well as many detoxes and fasts. It is said to increase lactation in nursing mothers and to help treat colic in babies. Generally, its main medicinal use is to eliminate gas, which is why it is used in Ayurveda, Panch Karma, detoxing and fasting. Because of its anti-gas / anti-bloating effects, it is often drunk as an infusion or in other drinks as an aperitif or a digestif.

Fennel Seed Drink Recipes

Fennel seed has a long history of use is drinks, such as absinthe, coffee and herbal 'tea'. Here are a few recipes you can check out to enjoy fennel seed in drink form: You can make basic fennel seed 'tea' by crushing or bruising fennel seeds and steeping them in boiling water for five minutes or longer (ten or more for medicinal use, less for taste) before straining them out. A ratio of one teaspoon fennel seed per cup boiling water works well. Fennel seed blends well with other herbs (such as mint, caraway and coriander), so feel free to play around with blending in other spices and leaves to see what you like.

Fennel seed is also used in a spice mixture known as Hawaij (also spelled Hawayej or Hawayij). Hawaij is a Yemenite ground spice mixture that is primarily used for soups and coffee. There are many variations, but the spice mixture used for coffee is made from aniseed, fennel seeds, ginger and cardamom. In Aden, Yemen, Hawaij is made for black coffee using ginger, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon (no fennel seed). When mixed for tea in Aden, Hawaij is made with only cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon.
Also Known As: saunf, fennel tea, Foeniculum vulgare, fennel spice, bisbas, besbas, shamar
Common Misspellings: fennell, fenell

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