Hindi for “fennel,” saunf or fennel seeds can be dry-roasted as a breath freshener and digestive aid to chew after an Indian meal or roasted and ground to create a powder for chai tea. The natural sweetness of the seeds means you only have to add a bit of honey for the chai. An even sweeter variant, kuja mishri, mixes the saunf with almonds and crystallized sugar lumps called mishri. You can substitute anise seeds, also called saunf, for fennel.
Heat the fennel seeds for 2 to 3 minutes in a pan over medium heat, stirring them with a wooden spoon until they become aromatic. Allow them to cool. You can now place them in a shallow bowl as an after-dinner refresher.
Add equal parts saunf, almonds and mishri -- available at Indian grocers or online --to a grinder or mini-chopper. If you prefer, you can make rock candy yourself to substitute for the mishri by dipping a weighted string into a sugar solution in a jar, letting the string dry, and then returning the string to the sugar solution and letting it sit undisturbed for seven days.
Grind the ingredients until they achieve a coarse or fine texture, to your preference, and store the resulting powder in a glass container.
Consume the sweet saunf by mixing about a tablespoon of the powder in a glass of milk.
Pronounce saunf as “soff,” with a nasal inflection. Look for it as "jintan mantis" in Southeast Asian stores and yan kok at Chinese grocers.
If you live in Canada and are sensitive to sulfities, ask your supplier of mishri for potential undeclared sulfites present in the rock candy mix.