It is a hardy, perennial, umbelliferous herb, with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. Fennel is used as a spice, a medicine and food preservative from a very long period of time. Fennel seeds are the ripe, dried, gray-green striped to yellowish brown schizocarpic fruits of the fennel bush. As a thumb rule, a bright green color seeds indicates a good quality. Obtained from an aromatic and medicinal plant, the seeds emit a pleasant odor, are highly aromatic and have a pungent flavor. It contains essential oil 1 to 6% which is rich in anethole. It has about 15% fatty oil. Generally fennel has less penetrative smell than cumin.
For medicinal uses, fennel is used to improve eyesight, aid digestion and cure obesity besides other uses. Fennel Seeds (Saunf) are very effective for digestive problems. These aromatic fennel seeds can be chewed upon or had as a tea decoction for beneficial effects upon the stomach. It also improves vision and even as antidote for poison. Other uses attributed include as rejuvenator, to stop hiccups, cure wheezing, ease stomach pain, give milk to woman’s breasts, good for kidney etc. Fennel essential oil is used in soaps, and some perfumes.
The creamy coloured poppy seeds are more common in India, where they are ground and used as a thickening agent in curries and sauces. They are also used in some Indian bread. The dark seeds are also popular as a crunchy topping for western breads and biscuits, savory and sweet. The dark seeds are used extensively as a filling or baking ingredient in German and Eastern European breads, cakes, biscuits and pastries. Delicious pastries and a yeasted poppy seed roll are typical celebration treats baked for Christmas and other festive occasions. They are also sprinkled generously over cooked noodles, or sweetened with honey and made into a dessert dip or sauce. Dry fried seeds are an interesting addition to salads dressings, for example in potato, tomato, egg or pasta salads or coleslaw. Both white and black seeds can be sprouted to add to salads, sandwiches and in mixed vegetable dishes.