A dried seed that comes from the fennel herb, fennel seeds look like cumin seeds, only greener, and have an aniseed flavour and a warm, sweet aroma. They’re also used in spice mixes such as Chinese five spice and the Indian panch poran.
The fennel plant is native to the southern European and Mediterranean regions, although nowadays it is cultivated and produced in other parts of the world such as India, China and Egypt.
The Romans introduced the spice to the UK and other European countries and over time it was also transported East to Asia and China.
Medicinally fennel seeds have traditionally been used to settle the stomach and digestive system. This is due to the high levels of certain components that are known to prevent muscle spasms and cramps. In the Indian culture, fennel seeds are often chewed after a meal to prevent gas or indigestion.
Star anise is aptly named. Part of the tree that is used as spice is its eight-pointed star-shaped pod. These pods or fruits are harvested before they ripen and are usually dried.
Star anise is a completely different plant that is native in China and Vietnam while anise is found more often in the Mediterranean region.
It rightly belongs in the Superhuman Food Pyramid because of the wonderful therapeutic effects it can provide as well as its dense nutritional profile.
For such a small spice, it is chockfull of vitamins and minerals. 100 grams of the spice delivers 21 milligrams of Vitamin C, 311 IU of Vitamin A, 646 milligrams of calcium, and 440 milligrams of phosphorous.
Like most of the spices and herbs that have been presented so far, star anise is a carminative and helps ease digestion.
Whole star anise is frequently used to sweeten soups and meat stews in other types of cuisines. One or two pieces are usually enough to flavour your dish or tea.