This spice is one I was introduced to by my dear Vietnamese friend Rosie. Rosie taught me how to cook Vietnamese food during the three years she was my childrens babysitter in my home.
Star anise, star aniseed, badiane or Chinese star anise, (Chinese: 八角, pinyin: bājiǎo, lit. "eight-horn"; Malayalam: തക്കോലം) is a spice that closely resembles anise in flavor, obtained from the star-shaped pericarp of Illicium verum, a small native evergreen tree of southwest China. The star shaped fruits are harvested just before ripening. It is widely used in Chinese cuisine, in Indian cuisine where it is a major component of garam masala, and in Malay–Indonesian cuisine. It is widely grown for commercial use in China, India, and most other countries in Asia. Star anise is an ingredient of the traditional five-spice powder of Chinese cooking. It is also a major ingredient in the making of phở, a Vietnamese noodle soup. It is used as a spice in preparation of Biryani in Andhra Pradesh, a state of southern India.