Fennel is a cooling spice, contributing the sweet and slightly bitter tastes, reminiscent of licorice. It has a nutty flavour and a strong aroma when sautéed in ghee.
According to Ayurveda, fennel is extremely good for digestion. It acts as a general toner for the digestive system, and is particularly good for enhancing agni, the digestive fire, without aggravating Pitta. In India, eating a few toasted fennel seeds after a meal is a common practice, both to aid digestion and to freshen the breath.
Fennel seeds can be used whole or ground. Whole fennel seeds, sautéed in ghee, contribute aroma and flavour to dry vegetable dishes, and ground fennel works very well in sauces. Fennel combines well with other ayurvedic spices such as cumin, coriander, dried ginger and black pepper.