Fennel seeds are an inseparable part of the Assamese life. Used mostly as a breath freshener, after being roasted, it makes it’s appearance in every important social function. If you attend a wedding, the first thing that you will be greeted with is with some ‘saunf‘ or ‘gowamuri‘ (as we call it in Assamese).
The bride will always have some on a bota (a traditional brass metal plate), mixed with dried coconut pieces and others add ons and it is quite common to see the kids hovering around her to get some. Somehow they always tasted better at weddings. If there is a guest and is in too much of a hurry to accept a cup of tea, the host/hostess make sure that they do not leave empty mouthed and offer some saunf. Again, after every meal, most of us will reach out for some as well.
Apart from it’s great use as a breath freshener, fennel seeds are also used in cooking, especially in meat curries.
For today’s recipe, however, I used some roasted and ground fennel seeds to make these cute, savoury, rye and fennel bites, which I had great fun making and eating as well.
1 tblsp fennel seeds, roasted and slightly roughly ground
1C rye flour
1 and 1/2 tblsp coarse cornmeal
1/3 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 C water
1/4 C sunflower/vegetable oil
- In a bowl, whisk together the rye flour, cornmeal, ground fennel, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
- In another bowl, mix together the oil and water.
- Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and tip in the water mixture.
- Fold in gently, preferably with a rubber spatula till everything is moistened. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Pre heat the oven at 170 deg C and line a baking tray with foil.
- Transfer the mixture to a ziploc packet. Snip off one end of the packet to about 8mms across.
- Starting from centre, pipe tiny spirals of the mixture of about 2 cms in diameter. ( I got about 112 of them).
- Place the tray in the centre of the pre heated oven and bake for about 15-17 minutesor till firm and nicely browned.
- Cool in the tray for 2 minutes and transfer to a rack to cool completely before storing in airtight containers.
All that’s left to do now is to start nibbling, and I must warn you that they are very addictive. The flavour of fennel shone through these simple but flavoursome snacks. Rengoni and Agastya just couldn’t have enough and neither could Dinesh and myself. Everyone’s eyes were on the container…not that they lived there long enough. At such times, it feels nice to see the family gorging on healthy snacks.
And as you must have guessed by now, these nibbles are off to dear Ivy who is guest hosting Think Spice for the month of February’09. She has given us two choices for spices ( Think spice, think twice); fennel and mastic gum, a spice unique to Greece. If you haven’t already submitted your fennely or mastic gum goodies, there is still time ( till the 28th of Feb’09). The link on my sidebar will take you to the event announcement page.