Fennel or Saunf is a highly aromatic and flavorful herb used in cookery and sweet desserts. It is an essential component of the Bengali spice mixture panch phoron and an important spice in Kashmiri Pandit and Gujarati cooking.
Toasted fennel is one of the typical ingredients responsible for the subtle and complex aroma of fiery, chilli laden curries. The toasting procedure not only increases the flavour, but also changes the character of fennel to a spicier and less sweet impression. It is traditionally considered one of the best herbs for fish dishes especially for poaching fish and seafood.
Fennel seeds are sometimes confused with those of anise, which are similar in taste and appearance. They are used for flavouring soups, meat dishes, sauces, liquors, pickles and bakery products. Roasted fennel seeds are consumed as an after-meal digestive to freshen breath. They are also eaten raw, sometimes with some sweetener, as they are said to improve eyesight. Ancient Romans regarded fennel as the herb of sight.
Fennel is one of the safest remedies for colic, which helps the baby release flatulence. A teaspoon of the fennel boiled in a cup of water, and allowed to steep for about 20 minutes is strained and allowed to cool. This tea, given to baby in his feed bottle, helps cure colic.