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Bisbas - Fennel


Bisbas - Fennel

Fennel (Bisbas)

Photo © Christine Benlafquih

Moroccan Arabic: البسباس

Fennel is an aromatic anise-flavored plant with edible bulbs, stalks, leaves and seeds. The bulbs are a root vegetable while the stalks, leaves and seeds are herbs. Native to the Mediterranean, fennel is also cultivated in other parts of Europe, Russia, the United States and the Near East.

Fennel bulbs may be white to pale green in color and are crispy in texture. The greener stalks, which are topped by the leaves, protrude from the top of the bulbs. The plant's flowers yield the seeds, which look similar to anise seeds yet are larger and milder in flavor.

Culinary Uses of Fennel

Fennel shows up not only in the Mediterranean cuisines of Italy, Spain, Greece, France and North Africa, but also in Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern cooking. The bulbs and stalks may be cooked a variety of ways or used raw in salads. The leaves are used both fresh and dry, while the seeds are added to meat dishes, breads and other foods to impart a mild licorice flavor.

Some examples of Moroccan recipes with fennel are:

Health Benefits of Fennel

Fennel is high in Vitamin C, fiber and potassium, and also contains manganese, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium and other nutrients. It's low in calories and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Fennel can aid in digestion and freshen the breath. In some cultures, it's used as a diuretic and as treatment for sore eyes and poor eyesight.

Pronunciation: fe-nəl
Also Known As: bisbas, besbas, shamar (standard Arabic)
Cut the fennel bulbs into quarters and add them to the pot.
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