Jintan Manis

The bigger of the two brothers (fennel and cumin), fennel is very widely used in both Indian and Malay cooking. In its seed form, it’s used to infuse flavour in many Indian curries, fry chicken or fish, and a key ingredient in satay sauce. As a powder, it turns up prominently in Soto, Rendang, Sup kambing and Goreng Manis.

Of the two brothers, fennel gets less love and attention. Despite being a bright fresh green (especially when just harvested) and a full 2 mm bigger than cumin seeds, its sweet licorice-like aroma is less preferred to its minty, smokier counterpart, especially in curries.

Personally, I use liberal amounts of fennel powder in Malay dishes as opposed to Indian curries. I find that the sweetness compliments the generous amount of coconut milk and sugar that is found in Malay foods.

Spice man

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