Star anise

 Star anise Key facts Star anise comes from a small native evergreen tree of southwest China. The star-shaped fruits are harvested just before ripening. It is a component of garam masala in India and Chinese five-spice powder, and has a great affinity with duck.

Open a jar of star anise and you're immediately transported to the heart of Chinatown, where the shops seem to be permeated with its exotic aroma.

The star shape is the pod and the tiny seeds nestle inside each star petal. It is usually used whole, like cardamom pods, and always looks very pretty. Its flavour faintly resembles aniseed but with warm, spicy overtones.

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