Saunf: Frying the Fruit
The love affair Indians have with saunf, or what the world calls fennel seeds, is no mystery. The spice not only dominates our recipes but the after-meal ritual too. So, would it surprise you to know that it’s the Greeks and the Romans who first introduced it to the world? Long before we packaged them as mouth-fresheners, they utilized it as medicine, insect repellent and, I kid you not, tea that gave warriors courage.
Fennel seeds belong to the same family as cumin and look pretty similar to aniseed. The fruit of the plant (yes, it’s not a seed; just looks like one) has a sweet, and aromatic bouquet with an unexpectedly refreshing taste.
But it’s when you dry-fry or roast saunf, that the fragrance and flavor become verdant. If roasting is not your cup-of-Darjeeling, grind the spice in a pestle and mortar.
Why Use Fennel Seeds: The Benefits of the Spice
Benefits fall within the regular repertoire of virtually every spice. Just open your kitchen cupboard and pick any one; their list of health perks will be as tall as me.
But fennel seeds are sui generis. The healing essential oils of saunf have both warming and cooling properties, something as rare as a unicorn.
What does it mean? When you chew them before a meal, it perks up the palate and stimulates your appetite. When you munch them after a meal, they get your digestion going.
Besides priming the digestive system, the calcium, potassium, vitamin C, magnesium and iron in fennel seeds make it an outstanding source of dietary fiber.
Feeling a little bloated? Have some fennel-infused water. Want to get rid of acid reflux? Nibble on some fennel seeds. Getting that uncomfortable sensation after a spicy meal? Saunf comes to your rescue.
The long and short of it is, fennel seeds lessen all sorts of stomach discomforts.
Fennel Seeds: A Quick How-To
The culinary uses of fennel seeds are self-evident. From curries to chutneys, from breads to savory dishes, the condiment is the heartbeat of Indian kitchens.
I particularly like it Blue Pea infused water A thimble of Blue Pea flower, a teaspoon of saunf and some slices of cucumber and you have a great recipe to keep bloating at bay.
Infused water is all well and good, but there are some days you fancy a refreshing and exquisitely spiced drink like an instant thandai.
For lovers of baking, saunf adds a special touch to the dough. Like in this dark chocolate chip fennel biscotti.
For something sweeter, try atta biscuits. Yes, cardamom is the spice you reach for when making these whole-wheat cookies, but powdered fennel seeds work just as well.
With winter’s impatiently waiting to turn the corner, give this fennel seed-filled Peanut Gur Patti (jaggery brittle) a whirl.
Tasha’s Inside Tip
The oval-shaped spice varies in color, from light green to slightly yellowish-brown. Always choose the green seeds. They are far superior.
I hope you are enjoying my #spiceseries blogs.
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