Twinkle, twinkle lil star. How I wonder what you are?
Well, I too, never wondered what this small star did in my kitchen’s spice box.
Oh yeah, you had it right. I’m talking about the very aromatic - Star Anise.
Although, it was a usual accompaniment in various dishes that my mother prepared, this tiny spice was always underrated by an inexperienced me. However, slowly my perception changed as I started noticing a distinctive flavor in all the cuisines in which it was used, and was surprised to know that this unsung hero has so much to showcase to the world out there.
Down the History Lane!
Surprisingly, the history of Star Anise is as old as 100 BC, and it is believed to be introduced to the world by an English sailor, Sir Thomas Cavendish in the 16th century. It has always been a much-celebrated spice in China, where its been in culinary use for thousands of years now.
Clusius is believed to have brought star anise to London which was later traded to Europe. With time, they began to be used as a substitute for anise seeds in commercial drinks that were made during the time.
They served as an important accompaniment in traditional oriental medicine. Gradually , their unique flavor allowed them to be used in jams, syrups and puddings. Star Anise constituted a major ingredient in Persian cuisines and that is the case till today.
A look at Star Anise
This spice is a seed pod from the fruit of the Illicium verum plant, which is native to Southwest China. They are generally grown in China, Indo-China, and Japan and are a major ingredient in Chinese cuisine.
They possess a very strong and distinctive flavor, along with a warm, sweet and spicy aroma. In order to keep them fresh, they need to be kept in an air-tight container, away from moisture, sunlight and heat.
The ground star anise is commonly used in Indian dishes as garam masala, while whole star anise is used in braised dishes or with fatty meat.
The Health Benefits!
During my exploration of this humble spice, I came across various health benefits that they are blessed with. Well, here are a few to let you have a quick glance to their unfathomable merits.
Star Anise has carminative, stomachic, antiseptic, tonic and stimulant properties. They are said to fight off bacteria that cause a variety of ailments. They protect against E. coli and other infections.
This wonderful spice contains volatile oils, several essential antioxidants, and vitamins that help prevent different kinds of diseases. Minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, zinc and magnesium are found in huge quantities in star anise that are beneficial for the body.
We all love our skin. But due to unavoidable hectic schedules we’re unable to take care of them properly. However, you can look after your skin if you begin adding star anise in your food items. It is found out that they help in hydrating, tightening, reducing fine lines and wrinkles that are common skin problems. They also help reduce dark spots or any marks.
One of the biggest problems that many of us face is the huge battle to lose one’s weight. But amazingly enough, it is not as difficult as it seems. Studies have shown that star anise has certain properties that can help lose incredible amounts of weight in a limited period of time.
Coupled with the zeal to lead a healthy life, and a certain amount of star anise in your cuisines is surely gonna kick up your health goals!
Star Anise and Different Dishes!
As an all rounder, star anise has such aromatic qualities that puts an extra icing on every cuisine that they’re used in. One of the main ingredients in Chinese and Indian cuisine, they make up a perfect picture of all the dishes made across the globe.
Well, here are certain dishes you can try at home that go well with this tiny superstar!
Fish Curry with Star Anise
If you are a fish lover and like to experiment with its taste, then you need to try out fish curry with star anise. Believe me, this simple step will add up so much more into the dish and would simply ratchet it up.
Who doesn’t like chicken dishes? Of course, we all do!
So, this easy yet yummilicious dish along with star anise and other pantry staples can bring a divine taste to your chicken curry and bring in a whole new flavor that will leave you craving for more.
If you’re keen on making biryani but do not know how to take the dish to the next level, then star anise is your best recourse. You can use this humble spice with the biryani masala and enhance its aroma and flavor.
We all just adore potato dishes!
Well, if you love aloo and also want to enhance the taste every time you make them, then you must use star anise and difference the notice that they produce. This miraculous spice, when dipped in simmering oil, releases a unique flavor and aroma to the dish that simply tastes heavenly and mind- boggling.
Star Anise can be added whole or maybe used in the ground form in different dishes. But trust me, whichever way you’ll prefer, they will surely bring in a blooming effect to your cuisines.
From its indubitable flavor that kicks up every dish to its amazing health benefits that helps you keep a healthy lifestyle, Star Anise has definitely created a culinary spark across the globe. This super versatile condiment that has been a part of human civilization for long clearly stands out from the crowd of similar spices and has added much to its laurel wreath.