A southern European biennial herb, its name comes from the Old Norse dilla, meaning "lull"...as it was commonly used to quiet colicky babies. Tradition has it that it's been used as a culinary and medicinal herb from the beginning of civilization. Certainly it was used by medieval witches in their love potions and to ward off the evil eye. By the 17th century, it had spread to the New World with the early New England settlers in America.
Origin - Central Asia. A related species (Anethum sowa) is grown in India; its fruits are larger but less fragrant. Therefore, when dill is asked for by an Indian recipe, it is advisable to reduce the amount of dill by about 30 to 50%, unless the book was explicitly written for Westerners.
Most imported dill stems from Egypt, other Mediterranean countries or Eastern Europe.
The characteristic, sweet taste of dill is popular all over Europe, Western, Central and Southern Asia. In Europe, it is mostly used for bread, vegetable (especially cucumber), pickles, and fish; for the last application, the leaves are preferred. Furthermore, it is indispensable for herb flavoured vinegars.
To make herbal vinegar, a mild vinegar brand must be chosen (e.g., apple vinegar). Herbs, a clove of garlic and, if desired, a few pepper or allspice corns are then macerated for a a couple of weeks.
Dill is a kind of "national spice" in Scandinavian countries, where fish or shellfish dishes are usually either directly flavoured with dill or served together with sauces containing dill. German cooks also tend to use dill mostly for fish soups and stews (see also parsley on bouquet garni).
In India, however, dill is common to flavour lentil and bean dishes (see ajwain).
(species Anethum graveolens), fennellike annual or biennial herb of the parsley family (Apiaceae, or Umbelliferae) or its dried, ripe fruit, or seeds, and leafy tops; these are used to season foods, particularly in eastern Europe and Scandinavia. Native to Mediterranean countries and southeastern Europe, dill is now widely cultivated in Europe, India, and North America. The entire plant is aromatic, and the small stems and immature umbels are used for flavouring soups, salads, sauces, fish, sandwich fillings, and particularly pickles. Dill has a warm, slightly sharp flavour somewhat reminiscent of caraway. Dill is reputed to have a calming effect on the digestive tract. It was given to crying babies, thus deriving its name from the Old Norse, dilla, meaning "to lull." Dill was believed to have magical properties and was used as a weapon against witchcraft. Dill was also reputed to cure hiccups, stomach aches, insomnia, and bad breath. In medieval times, injured knights are said to have burned dill seeds on their open wounds to speed healing.
The fruit, or seed, is broadly oval in shape, about 0.14 inch (3.5 mm) long, with three longitudinal dorsal ridges and two winglike lateral ridges. It is light brown in colour. The essential oil content is about 3 percent; its principal component is carvone.
Dill weed is traditionally heavily used in German and Scandinavian cooking, and has become one of the most popular herbs in American, especially in areas dominated by these ethnic groups. Dill weed's flavor, lighter and sweeter than dill seed, along with its bright green, feathery appearance, makes it a perfect addition to omelets, cheese sauces, salad dressings and dips. Dill is traditionally added to any dish with a white sauce, from potato salad to sour cream fresh vegetable dip. Nice as a garnish, sprinkled on salad, soup or chicken. From California.
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