Native to the Middle East, aniseed is grey-brown in color and oval shaped, and it tastes deeply of licorice. Not to be confused with star anise, aniseed is related to dill, cumin, caraway and fennel. Although Europeans primarily use it for sweet foods, it is used predominantly in savory dishes such as soups and stews in the Middle East. It is also used to infuse alcohol, such as Absinthe, Pernod, Anisette, Ouzo, Sambuca and Raki.
fennel seed or star anise can substitute in a pinch.