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Fennel seeds are the dried seed of the fennel herb, and look like cumin seeds, only greener. They have an aniseed flavour and a warm, sweet aroma. They can be used on their own or in spice mixes such as Chinese five-spice powder and Indian panch phoran.
All year round.
You'll get more flavour out of fennel seeds by grinding or toasting them. To grind, either crush in a pestle and mortar, put in a sealed food bag and bash with a rolling pin, or whizz to a powder in a clean coffee grinder. To toast, heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat and toast the seeds for a couple of minutes, tossing the pan frequently so they don't burn.
Keep in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. They will last for up to two years.
Use to flavour fish, meat and vegetable dishes, as well as breads and chutneys. You can also chew the whole seeds to freshen your breath, and they're believed to aid digestion, too.
Try dill or caraway seed.