Spice Up Your Life! 8

(This column brings you information on various spices, fruits and vegetables, along with recipes and home remedies courtesy of Sahakari Spice Farm (www.sahakarifarms.com). Readers are cautioned to use remedies with discretion)

Anise Seeds

Aniseeds, or anise seeds, are the product of a perennial plant called anise, which belongs to the parsley family. The herbaceous plant’s scientific name is Pimpinella anisum and it has a flavour similar to liquorice. The light brown seeds or fruit of this plant are 3-5 mm long and oblong or curved in shape with fine lines across the length. They are utilised ground or whole in various cuisines in India and have medicinal uses too.

The therapeutic effects of aniseed are:

  • Chewing aniseeds or brewing a concoction of tea with aniseeds can help in reducing flatulence  and indigestion, and improve appetite.
  • Since they are anti-spasmodic they are used to relieve constant cough, cramps and seizures.
  • Aniseed essential oil has the effect of a sedative on people suffering from epilepsy and nervous disorders.
  • Aniseed contains a good amount of essential minerals. In particular, the copper it contains aids in building up red blood cells and potassium acts as a regulator of heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Its ability to facilitate blood circulation can alleviate arthritic aches and pains.
  • As an expectorant, aniseed oil can dislodge phlegm and give respite from congestion, asthma    and other respiratory problems.
  • It is antibacterial in nature and is used to freshen one’s breathe.
  • Aniseed relieves menstrual cramps, can induce menstruation and helps one to endure labour pains.
  • Aniseed contains vitamin C and vitamin A in a good degree which gives it antioxidant qualities.
  • Aniseed oil is used to treat lice, scabies and psoriasis.
  • Aniseed can increase libido in men and women.
  • Excessive use can have detrimental effects:
  • It can act as an abortifacient and should be used sparingly by pregnant women.
  • Some people may find they have allergic reactions to aniseed.
  • There are chemicals in anise/aniseed that may act like estrogen. If an individual has conditions that can be exacerbated by estrogen, the person would do well to limit or avoid anise.

Recipes by Sumedha Kotibhaskar

Pumpkin Vegetable (serves four)

Ingredients: ¼ kg of pumpkin, 2 tbsp of sunflower or coconut oil, ½ tsp of mustard seeds, ¼ tsp of asafoetida, ½ tsp of fenugreek, ¼ tsp of turmeric powder, ½ cup of grated coconut, sugar and salt

Preparation: Peel off the skin of the pumpkin and cut it into ½ inch pieces. Heat oil in a non-stick deep frying pan and add mustard seeds, asafoetida, turmeric powder and fenugreek. Add the pumpkin along with half a cup of water to the frying pan. Add sugar and salt for taste. Cook for 10 minutes or until the water disappears, and garnish it with grated coconut.

Banana Flower Vegetable (serves four)

Ingredients: 2 banana flowers, 1-2 tbsp of sunflower or coconut oil, 2 tbsp of green peas, ¼ tsp of turmeric, 2 pinches of asafoetida, ½ cup of grated coconut, sugar and salt to taste.

Preparation: Keep the green peas immersed in water for two hours. Peel off the outer brown petals of the banana flower, wash it, soak it for a while and then grate the white central part. Heat oil in a deep frying pan and add mustard seeds, turmeric powder, asafoetida and green peas. Add a cup of water and, when the peas are cooked well, add the grated banana flower, sugar (optional) and salt, and cook it for 10 minutes.


Menstrual Cramps: Mix half a pinch of turmeric powder with one tsp of pure honey and consume the mixture twice a day for three to four days.