If you have been to an Indian restaurant …have you noticed a pretty, perfectly symmetrical, woodsy flower like item floating in your curry or easily visible in a heap of biryani….
Do you know what it is ?
Its our celebrity spice… Star Anise.. This is a beautiful spice with exotic aroma .. It looks very attractive and can be used for garnishing the dish.
But a few years ago, our celebrity spice had gotten in some bad rap…it was pulled from the shelves in some countries after health officials in the US, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands got desperate calls from parents about children and babies falling ill due to star anise.
It has so happened that the colicky babies were given star anise tea as a home remedy to ease colic. The babies had serious symptoms including seizures, but everything cleared up within 2-3 days, and there were no reports of long-term illness. The reason wasn’t our star anise but a phony Japanese star anise—a toxic duplicate which accidentally landed in these people’s homes. The real spice was cleared of all doubts after FDA’s confirmation that the Chinese star anise is safe for human consumption.
How to identify authentic star anise from fake?
True star anise always has eight carpals, but Japanese star anise has 10 or more.
Getting to Know Star Anise
Star anise is the fruit of an evergreen tree native to China—this spice is extremely vital ingredient in Chinese cuisine—its signature flavoring is in nearly every Chinese regional cuisine.
It is dark brown in color with 8 segments. It has sweetish licorice taste, the flavor is a sweet, yet slightly spicy. Like every other spice, the secret to using Star Anise is, using in moderation. Since little goes a long way.
Where is it used?
If you have ever tasted had a bowl of Vietnamese Pho – you will know that’s it’s one of the main ingredients is Star Anise.
Chinese Five Spice Powder’s star ingredient is star anise.
Star anise has its fair share in flavoring Indian Curries, pulao and biryanis.
The tangy Italian liquor, Sambuca contains star anise.
1. Star anise is very useful in treating sore throats and colds.
Its antifungal and antibacterial abilities can help protect from flu and other viral infections.
It contains Shikimic acid, which is used in numerous drugs for treatment of Influenza. This Shikimic acid is used in Tamiflu and Tamiflu is extremely well-known medicine prescribed for Flu.
2. Star anise is rich in healthy nutrients and anti-oxidants.
Antioxidants are substances that can avoid or slow down the damage to cells caused due to free radicals. Free radicals are the unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to environmental and other pressures. Star anise helps us fight these free radicals i.e. it helps us fight chronic health problems such as cardiovascular and inflammatory disease, cataract, and cancer.
3. Star anise is excellent for women health.
Researches have proved that star anise has mild estrogenic effect due to compound anethole, which helps control hormonal functions in women. Star anise can be helpful in all stages of women’s life right from regulating periods, helping in premenstrual syndrome to helping in dealing with menopause and lower libido.
1. Drinking star anise tea is reliable home remedy for cold, cough symptoms.
Add 2-3star anise seed pods in boiling water for over 15 minutes. Strain the tea and add a few drops of honey.
Drink this tea thrice daily to get gull benefits of its immunity-boosting property.
2. Star anise oil is also available in market for quick and easy usage.