Star Anise is indigenous to South Eastern China. Commercial production is limited to China and Vietnam. In India, it is produced to a small extent in Arunachal Pradesh. The crop requires specific agro climatic conditions available only in the traditional growing areas, which has prevented repeated attempts of other countries to grow star anise. However it prefers woodlands, sunny edges, and dappled shade. The plant grows well in humus rich, mildly acidic to neutral soils, which are light to medium and having good drainage. It tolerates temperatures down to –10 degree C.
Star anise is one of the signature flavours of Chinese savory cooking. The five-spice powder mix common in China contains star anise. It is used to flavour vegetables, meat, and to marinate meat. It is used as a condiment for flavouring curries, confectionaries, spirits, and for pickling. It is also used in perfumery. The essential oil of star anise is used to flavour soft drinks, bakery products and liquors. The fruit is anti-bacterial, carminative, diuretic and stomachic. It is considered useful in flatulence and spasmodic.
The star-shaped spice originated in south China and posses licorice-like flavour and is called by the name of ‘chakra phool’ in India.
Anise is frequently used as an exotic spice in Indian as well as in Chinese cuisines. Because of its strong, delightful fragrance, it is mostly used in biryanis, chicken, sea food and other vegetarian dishes.
But it’s time to think ‘outside of the kitchen’. This small flower-like fruit is also a storehouse of some key ingredients, which can help combat several illnesses apart from imparting flavour to dishes.
Before using, star anise is dried in the sun until it become greyish-brown in colour.