Fennel seeds are the dried seeds of the fennel plant, Foeniculum vulgare. Fennel is a plant indigenous to the Mediterranean with a long history of cultivation. Fennel seeds have a pronounced aniseed flavour, with a sweetness enhanced by dry-frying.
In many cultures fennel seeds are valued for their digestive properties and mouth-sweetening qualities, with fennel seeds a traditional component of paan, the Indian betel-leaf chew. Fennel seeds are also one of the spices in Bengal’s panchpuran.
Use fennel seeds to flavour slow-roast pork belly, oily fish such as sardines or mackerel, sauerkraut or in breads such as olive oil-rich focaccia. To enhance their flavour before cooking with them, dry-roast fennel seeds in a dry frying pan, stirring now and then, for a few minutes until fragrant.
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