Anis: A Versatile and Aromatic Spice

Anis: A Versatile and Aromatic Spice

Anis, also known as anise or aniseed, is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae that is native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. It has a distinctive licorice-like flavor and aroma that comes from its essential oil, anethole. Anis is widely used to flavor food, candy, and alcoholic drinks, especially around the Mediterranean.

Anis has a long history of cultivation and use for its medicinal and culinary properties. It was first grown in Egypt and the Middle East, and was brought to Europe by the Romans. Anis seeds have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, and were used by the Greeks and Romans as a digestive aid, a breath freshener, and a perfume ingredient. Anis was also valued for its antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, expectorant, and galactagogue effects.

Today, anis is still widely used for its health benefits and flavor. Anis seeds are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that can help prevent and treat various conditions such as coughs, colds, asthma, bronchitis, indigestion, bloating, gas, colic, menstrual cramps, menopause symptoms, lactation problems, insomnia, anxiety, and parasitic infections. Anis can also improve oral health by fighting bacteria and plaque.

Anis is also a popular spice for cooking and baking. It can enhance the flavor of breads, cakes, cookies, pies, puddings, custards, ice creams, candies, chocolates, jams, syrups, sauces, soups, stews, salads, meats, fish, poultry, cheese, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and herbs. Anis can also be used to make tea or infused in water or milk for a refreshing drink.

Anis is also a key ingredient in many alcoholic beverages that are enjoyed around the world. Some of the most famous ones are:

  • Ouzo: A Greek anise-flavored liqueur that is usually mixed with water or ice.
  • Sambuca: An Italian anise-flavored liqueur that is often served with coffee beans or flamed.
  • Pastis: A French anise-flavored liqueur that is diluted with water or ice.
  • Rakı: A Turkish anise-flavored liqueur that is also diluted with water or ice.
  • Arak: A Levantine anise-flavored liqueur that is similar to rakı but has a higher alcohol content.
  • Anisette: A sweet anise-flavored liqueur that is produced in various countries such as France (Marie Brizard), Spain (Anís del Mono), Malta (Å»ambur), Portugal (Licor Aniz Escarchado), Algeria (Anisette Cristal), and the Philippines (Anisado).

Anis is a versatile and aromatic spice that can add a touch of sweetness and warmth to any dish or drink. It can also provide many health benefits and improve well-being. Anis is truly a spice worth trying.

If you are looking for some ways to use anis in your kitchen, here are some delicious recipes that you can try. Whether you want to bake some cookies, make some liqueur, or spice up your meat dishes, anis can add a wonderful flavor and aroma to your creations.

Anise Biscotti

Biscotti are crunchy Italian cookies that are perfect for dipping in coffee or tea. This recipe uses anis seeds and anise extract to give them a hint of licorice flavor. You can also add some almonds for extra crunch and nutrition. These biscotti can be stored in an airtight container for over a month.


  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup brandy
  • 1 ½ teaspoons anise extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 2 tablespoons anise seed


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a large baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the brandy, anise extract, and vanilla extract.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Fold in the almonds and anise seed.
  4. Divide the dough into four equal parts. Shape each part into a 12-inch long log and place on the prepared baking sheet, leaving some space between them.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the baking sheet.
  6. Cut each log diagonally into ½-inch thick slices. Place the slices cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, turning once, or until crisp and golden.
  7. Cool completely on wire racks. Store in an airtight container.

Anise Pork with Figs and Apples

This is a savory and sweet dish that combines pork with dried figs, fresh apples, and orange juice. The fennel seeds or crushed aniseed add depth and warmth to the pork. This dish is easy to make and can be served with rice or couscous.


  • ¾ teaspoon fennel seeds (or crushed aniseed)
  • 4 ounces boneless pork loin steaks
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large shallots (thinly sliced)
  • 1 large garlic clove (minced)
  • 1 cup tart apple (slices)
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • 4 dried Calimyrna figs (quartered)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar



  1. In a small skillet over moderate heat, toast the fennel seeds until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and grind coarsely.
  2. Sprinkle the pork with salt, pepper, and half of the fennel seeds. In a large skillet over high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the pork and cook until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
  3. In the same skillet over moderate heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the apple slices and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes more.
  4. In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the orange juice to a boil. Add the figs and simmer until plump, about 10 minutes.

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