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A tiny petal of Star Anise can add whole new dimensions of flavour and aroma, making it the perfect secret ingredient for a wide range of dishes that would otherwise feel too straightforward.
Star anise is widely used in Indian cuisine where it is a major component of garam masala spice mix. It is used in biryani and masala chai all over the Indian subcontinent. Star anise enhances the flavour of meat. Apart from its use in sweetmeats and confectionery, it combines especially well with meat and poultry. In more liberal amounts, star anise can be notoriously overpowering, but that only reinforces its culinary credentials.
Star anise is an ingredient of the traditional five-spice powder of Chinese cooking. Five spice powder is often added to a batter of egg white and corn starch, which is used to coat meats and vegetables to keep them moist and succulent for deep-frying. Poultry and other meats are frequently coated with a mixture of corn starch and five spice powder before being deep-fried. It is also contained in marinades for meat to be stir-fried. Chinese stocks and soups very often contain the spice. Since the mixture is very aromatic, it should be used with care.
Star anise pairs brilliantly with tomatoes. Its licorice-like flavour actually bears a close resemblance to that of fennel and basil, tomato’s classic companions. A single pod of star anise transforms the flavour of any tomato-based sauce or stew; and with its warm, spicy undertone, elevates the dish to a whole new level. Star anise, in its natural form, can help the body’s immune system fight off many strains of flu, as well as tackle many other health challenges.