Monday, April 9, 2012

Fennel, the Totem Spice for Pitta

One of the spices that is worshiped by my Pitta friends is Fennel. The refreshing, expansive and bitter-sweet taste of fennel can cool down internal fire as well as make your digestion wind-free.

This sweet, spicy and warm spice was crowned as a symbol of success by the Greeks. Fennel is indigenous to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region and has been used as a condiment by the Chinese, Indians and Egyptians since antiquity. Of course, as the Romans used it as a spice as well as a vegetable, surely they were responsible for the distribution of fennel throughout Europe, where it has now been known for 900 years.


Fennel is the spice for Pitta Dosha. It is carmative, refreshing and digestive. Its bitter aftertaste is an ideal complement to a Pitta Dosha meal. It is helpful when the excessive fire of Pitta causes inflammation in the tissues and decay in the cells. Fennel seeds contain anecthole, a powerful antioxidant - in fact one study shows it is more powerful than vitamin E - that aids tissue inflammation

The qualities of fennel impact your body with unsuspected results. For example, in a study conducted by the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, doctors treated 30 female high school students with moderate to severe menstrual cramps, using either fennel extract or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Both the anti-inflammatory drug and fennel effectively relieved menstrual pain.

Fennel has also been praised in alternative therapies in health and medicine for treating colic in babies.

The health benefits of fennel are also at service to patients suffering from inflammatory diseases such as Alzheimer’s, glaucoma, arthritis, osteo- and rheumatoid, cancer, colitis, stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure.


In the kitchen fennel is so versatile. It is a herb, a vegetable and a spice. All of them have the licorice taste suitable to cook stews, soups and stir-fries. I like to roast whole fennel seeds and then grind them, I find it releases a sweet fragrance that stimulates the appetite of all of members of the house.

Fennel is internationally used and easy to acquire. From the Mediterranean to India, China and Morocco, fennel has been added to bread, liqueur, cakes and curries to add a coherent factor to the rest of the spices.

The mild fragrance of anise, the different licorice overtones and the freshness of fennel serves as an element of amalgamation when you are combining spices. It brings unity and cohesiveness to the blend. Fennel goes well with multiple spices, giving dimension to curries, chutneys and desserts.

Combine fennel with allspice, cardamom, chili, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds (which is another amalgamator), cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, galangal, ginger, mustard, paprika, tamarind or turmeric. Bay leaves, black cumin seeds, garlic, marjoram, onion, rosemary and sundried tomato are also great additions to the flavor of fennel.

In my kitchen I like to combine fennel with mint, cocoa and coriander. I am also not shy to add this refreshing herb to morning oats, compotes or fruit desserts. One of the beauties of fennel is that it has the possibility of giving you a whole taste experience by itself. Just roast it with a natural sweetener and you have fresh breath and a refreshing sensation in your mouth.


This tea guarantees an instantaneous cooling and tuning of the stomach. Make the tea strong in cases of nausea, burning sensations in the stomach, colic, menstrual cramps or to refresh your breath.


1 cup of water

1 cup of fresh coconut water (you can substitute this with organic coconut milk)

3 tsp of fennel seeds, whole

½ cup of mint

2 tsp of coriander, whole

1 star anise

½ tsp rose water

½ tsp aloe vera gel.


Boil the water (including the coconut water) by itself. Once it has boiled, take the water away from the fire.

Grind the fennel seeds and add them, along with the mint, coriander and star anise to the warm water. Infuse for 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the rose water and aloe vera at the end.

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