Roaming around various markets and farms in Goa, I was overwhelmed by the abundance of fresh spices. I brought back the most beautiful cinnamon from a farm I visited, incredible white poppy seeds from a popular indoor market, and all sorts of nonsense from the famed, outdoor Mapusa Friday market the day before I left. I smuggled in the lot (smuggled as in declared them, carried them in my hand, and chatted away with the customs officer about cooking after…) and am now happily sitting on some prized spices. They are incredibly fresh, distinct, aromatic – it’s sad how much of their potency is lost by the time they get to the supermarket shelves.
One of the spices I brought back is Lucknow Fennel, which is believed to be one of the highest quality fennel seeds out there. These seeds are primarily grown in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh in India. They are smaller, greener, and definitively sweeter and more aromatic than traditional fennel seeds. In South Asia, they are often used as a digestive or breath freshener.
I’ve seen this spice used in desserts and am debating baking them into a shortbread cookie myself. They also would be fantastic in a riz au lait or kheer or even with yogurt, honey, and fruit. I usually prefer traditional fennel seeds for more savoury applications (LOVE it in sausage and pork dishes), but love the sweeter crunch these provide for breads.
This type of fennel seed is easily found at ethnic grocers and online spice providers.