It is a flowering plant species in the carrot family bearing the botanical name Foeniculum Vulgare. It’s hardy, perennial, umbelliferous herb with yellow flowers and feathery leaves which is extremely aromatic and anise flavoured spice.
Fennel – The Flavourful Herb
It is home-grown to the shores of Mediterranean, later it grew wild on dry soils near the sea-coast and on river banks in many parts of the world. Today it is largely cultivated in the Southern France, Saxony, Galicia, Russia, India and Persia.
Culinary Uses of Fennel
The bulb, foliage and seeds of the fennel plant are commonly used in the culinary traditions of the world. The fennel pollen, most expensive is the most strong form of fennel. The green seeds that are fresh and the leaves are delicately flavoured are optimal for cooking.
The bulb, a crisp vegetable can be eaten raw or sautéed stewed and grilled.
Tender leaves are used as garnishes as a salad, to add flavour to salads, to flavour sauces, to be served with puddings, and in soups.
Countries like India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle East use fennel seed in their cookery. It is one of the most important spices in Kashmiri Pandit and Gujarati cooking. It is an essential ingredient of the spice mixture panch phoron and Chinese five spice powders. It is an after meal digestive and mouth freshener.
In Syria and Lebanon, the young leaves are used to make a special kind of egg omelette called ijjeh.
Florence fennel is a key ingredient in Italian and German salads. Also Fennel seeds are the primary flavour component in Italian sausage.
In Spain, the stems of the fennel plant are used in the preparation of pickled eggplants.
Medicinal Uses of Fennel
It relieves from anaemia, indigestion, flatulence, constipation, colic, diarrhoea, respiratory disorders, menstrual disorders and best for eye care.
The essence of Fennel is widely used in mouth fresheners, toothpastes, desserts and antacids.
An herbal tea can be made from Fennel and it is employed as a carminative drink.
Syrup from juice of Fennel is good for chronic coughs.
Fennel seed decoction or added to diet of lactating mother increases breast milk.
Fennel water relieves colic pain and aids digestion of new born babies.
Fennel seed oil gives relief to coughs, bronchitis and act as massage oil to cure joint pains.
Nutritional Profile of Fennel
It has many health benefiting nutrients, essential compounds, anti-oxidants, dietary fibre, minerals and vitamins.
It offers protection from cancers, infection, aging and degenerative neurological diseases.
It’s a rich source of dietary fibre helps increase bulk of the food by absorbing water throughout the digestive system and ease constipation problems.
It has a good source of minerals like Copper, Iron, Calcium, Potassium, Manganese, Selenium, Zinc and Magnesium and vitamins like Vitamin A, E, C and B-complex vitamins like Thiamine, Pyridoxine, Riboflavin and Niacin.