All about Star Anise (चक्र फूल)
Star Anise is a star-shaped spice originated in south China and posses a licorice-like flavor and is called by the name of 'chakra Phool' in India. It is brown in color and has an aroma similar to that of fennel seed. It has a strong licorice taste, more intense than regular anise. The fruits are picked up just before the harvest. Before using, star anise is dried in the sun until it becomes greyish-brown in color. Once dried, anise can be ground to a powder or can be used as it is. Star anise contains an essential oil that is responsible for its flavor. Rust-colored and tough-skinned, they have widely used aromatic properties.
Cooking with Star Anise
Because of its strong, delightful fragrance, it is mostly used in biryanis, chicken, seafood, and other vegetarian dishes. The pungent, licorice-like aroma makes star anise an integral ingredient in Chinese five-spice, where it’s combined with fennel, cinnamon, Szechuan peppercorns, and cloves. This spice is used to season everything from Biryani to roast duck to spiced nuts.
Star anise oil is used to add fragrance in soaps and other cosmetic products.
Health benefits of Star Anise
- Star anise is rich in antioxidants and vitamins A and C, which help fight free radicals that are responsible for early aging and diabetes.
- The oil produced by star anise contains thymol, terpineol, and anethole, which is used for treating cough and flu.
- Anise also helps improve digestion, alleviate cramps, and reduce nausea.
- Consuming star anise tea after meals helps treat digestive ailments such as bloating, gas, indigestion, and constipation. Anise is one of the main ingredients in your favorite masala chai also.
- Drinking one glass of water infused with the crushed seeds of star anise at night can increase one's sex drive!
If you’ve never used this spice in your culinary pursuits before, keep in mind that a little goes a long way.
Try sprinkling powdered star anise into your next batch of muffins or throw a couple of whole pods into your next pot of soup for a warming boost of flavor :)