I really enjoy the taste of fennel seeds (variali), it gives a wonderful fresh feel to the mouth, which is the reason why it is used as a after dinner mouth freshener in India. Also it retains its taste when mixed with other herbs and spices. When I was living in India for my placement year, I went on a little weekend break with my maternal uncle’s family and along the car journey we saw fields of variali and drying red chillies. When I asked my cousin what was growing in the fields he said variali, so we stopped the car and cheekily ran into the field and picked a bunch of variali, it is so refreshing and cool when eaten fresh and raw.
So when I saw the event of ‘Think Spice.. Think Twice‘ for this month which was for fennel, I thought I must take part and make these biscuits. This event is originally started off by Sunita of Sunita’s World, and I feel it is a wonderful event where we learn a lot about different spices, not to mention the vast array of recipes we get from it as everyone uses spices in different ways. This month the event is hosted by Ivy from Kopiaste, where she has given the option of two different spices, fennel and mastic gum.
I originally made these biscuits a couple of years back as one of my Diwali treats. I had them at one of my husband’s cousin sister’s place. She makes lovely biscuits, so I asked her for the recipe and made them a year or so later. However the biscuits had spread while baking, as I had beaten the butter and sugar mixture too much. So when I saw this event I thought I would make these biscuits, remembering not to over beat the mixture. However this time I cannot explain why it happened but once I had added the milk, the butter, and sugar, the mixture curdled slightly. I still carried on and the biscuits turned out to be a success. They are quite refreshing and a good treat and go wonderfully well with afternoon tea.
Fennel (Variali) Biscuit
As I had made these biscuits before, I reduced the amount of sugar slightly to the original and added twice the amount of ground fennel. Perhaps next time I will be brave enough and try making them using wholemeal flour, to make them more healthy. You can use a biscuit machine with a moulding disc of your choice, or as I did (because I don’t have a biscuit machine) use a icing gun. Another way of making them is by creating small portions of the dough into oval shapes and then press with a fork to make a pattern, either straight lines or a grid pattern.
Preparation time:20 mins Cooking time:10 to 15 mins Makes: roughly 100
250g plain flour
6 to 8 tbsp ground fennel
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup warm milk
1) Start to cream the butter and sugar together, once they start to look like they are binding together (like coarse sand) slowly start to add the warm milk to the mixture and combine all three of the ingredients.
2) Fold in the remaining ingredients to form a soft dough. Let it rest for a while.
3) In the mean time line a baking tray with grease proof paper and pre heat the oven at 200’C.
4) Create the biscuits by filling the dough into the biscuit machines, or icing gun.
5) Bake in the oven until they are golden brown in colour. Cool completely on a wire rack before storing in a air tight container and enjoy at your leisure.