Related to the carrot and parsley families, it is the seeds of the anise or aniseed plant that are used in cookery. They have a very distinctive liquorice flavour and a sweet yet spicy aroma. The dried seeds are ground to make powdered ground anise, which can lose its flavour quickly - it is best to buy seeds and grind them or to buy ground anise in small quantities.
Uses: Popular in sweet and savoury dishes including Indian dishes, fish recipes and breads. Anise adds flavour to cakes, biscuits and pastries and is used to make sweets, including aniseed balls. It is also the main flavour in many drinks including Pernod, ouzo and French Pastis.
To cook: To obtain a stronger flavour, dry-fry the seeds in a hot frying pan for a few minutes until the aroma is released.