Arabic: Anisun, Yansun, Yansoon Pimpinella anisum Umbelliferae/Apiaceae (Parsley Family)
From cookies to colds, this tiny, aromatic, gray-brown seed—often called aniseed—serves families across the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi merchants import much of their aniseed from Syria and India. Anise also grows in Egypt, Cyprus, Crete and on the Eastern Mediterranean coast.
In the kitchen: Licorice-flavored aniseed provides subtle flavor to cookies and other sweets.
Remedies across Arabia: Anise is a popular folk medicine, with a long tradition in Islamic pharmacology. It is used to treat general abdominal pain, colic, indigestion, menstrual cramping, coughs and headaches. It is also believed to clean the urinary system and prevent inflammations. Anise has aromatic, diaphoretic, relaxant, stimulant, tonic, carminative and stomachic properties.
Did you know?
- Anise is sometimes confused with fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), particularly the Iranian varieties, which are quite similar in appearance and flavor.
- An oil distilled from anise is what gives licorice candy its flavor.
- Anise is a key ingredient of supari, the digestive spice mix served after a curry meal.