Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a tall, stout perennial herb native to the Mediterranean region. In Saxon times fennel was one of the ‘Nine sacred herbs for the nine causes of disease’. All parts of the plant can be eaten. The dried ‘seeds’ (technically they are fruit) are green when fresh. Otherwise they resemble cumin but with an aniseed-like taste. Fennel pollen is a relatively new crop from the plant that can fetch retail prices of £1,000 per kilogram. The swollen ‘bulb’ of Florence fennel varieties is used as a vegetable and juvenile fennel leaves used as a herb and garnish. Fennel has naturalized in many countries, for example in England it is often found growing near the sea. Its finely divided glaucous green leaves are adapted to this habitat.
Fennel seeds are used in many different cultures around the world, including in Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern and some European cuisines. Can you work out which of these recipes comes from which country? To play, match the images from the left to the ones on the right to play.