Though a popular spice in its own right, fennel seeds are also combined with other spices to make Chinese five spice and the Indian panch phoran and sometimes garam masala. The dried seeds come from the fennel plant and look a bit like cumin seeds only greener. Their taste is of aniseed.
Often dry-fried first in Indian cuisine to bring out the flavour for adding to meat and vegetable dishes, or for mixing into pickles and chutneys, Italians use it to flavour pork and Germans for sauerkraut.
DID YOU KNOW
Apart from their culinary use, fennel seeds are often given to chew on at the end of a meal as a mouth freshener.