Fennel seed is a spice that has a warm and aromatic flavour, extracted from the fennel plant, which is a member of the carrot family. The seed is oval in shape, and once it is dried, develops a greenish-brown colour. And as the seed ages, it eventually turns into a grey colour. Since fennel seed has a very similar taste with anise, which is sweet with a slight hint of liquorice-like flavour, the two are often confused for each other.
Even though fennel seed has its origins in the Mediterranean, it is used as a spice in a number of countries today. Fennel seed is used as a key ingredient in various kinds of dishes around the world, mostly in sweet and savoury recipes. Indian, Italian and Middle Eastern dishes are found to use fennel seed more extensively than other cuisines. Usually, fennel seed is used as a flavouring agent in spice blends and tea, as well as for marinating meat.
Apart from its uses as a spice, fennel seed is believed to have digestive benefits. Especially in India and Pakistan, they are often roasted and consumed after a meal to not only aid in digestion but also for fresh breath.