Species: Foeniculum vulgare
Other names: Shatapushpa
Appearance: The color of the seed varies from brown to light green.
Typically used: Whole, but can also be used ground
Origin: Fennel originated in the Mediteranean and today is a mainstay in India cuisine.
Flavor: The taste is reminiscent of anise, and some compare it to an herbal type of licorice.
Aroma: It has a sweet, fragrant aroma.
Culinary uses: Fennels seeds is delicious in most fish and seafood dishes, and is a part in some curry powders. The seeds can be used whole or ground. It is best to grind the seeds immediately before use, but busy chefs may grind ahead of time and keep the spice in a cool, dark place, in an airtight container.
Q: If I don’t have fresh fennel from the produce department, can I use the seeds instead?
A. Fresh fennel is a bulb-shaped vegetable that is wonderful in raw salads and salsas and added to soups, stir-fries and main dishes. You can certainly use the seeds to provide the flavor of fennel but you will likely want to replace the bulb with another bulky vegetable such as celery or zucchini slices.
Q: Can I use fennel in place of anise since their flavors and fragrance are similar?
A. Both fennel and anise have a similar, licorice-like flavor and aroma and can therefore be used interchangeably. Remember the flavor of fennel is not quite as strong as anise, so you may want to use a bit more. If your recipe calls for ground anise, be sure to use ground fennel instead of the whole seed.