Fennel is a perennial herb, which is used prominently in Mediterranean cuisine, where bulbs and fronds are used, both raw and cooked, in side dishes, salads, pastas, vegetable dishes such as artichoke dishes in Greece, and risottos. Fennel seed is a common ingredient in Italian sausages and meatballs and northern European rye breads. Many cultures in the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East use fennel seed in their cookery.
Fennel is one of the most important spices in Kashmiri Pandit cooking. It is an essential ingredient of the Assamese/Bengali/Oriya spice mixture panch phoron and in Chinese five-spice powders. Fennel seeds are sometimes confused with those of anise, which are very similar in taste and appearance, though smaller. Fennel seed can also be used to make herbal teas.
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