In my fourth installment of The Herb Series, I wanted to take a look at an herb that doesn’t receive the usual bright lights and raves that others such as cilantro and parsley get. And yet its use in various recipes are both long-standing and wide-ranging; anethum graveolens. And for all you non-scientific folks out there, dill.
Most of us probably don’t know that much about dill; I certainly didn’t until recently. We just consider it a non-descript garnish to be laid to the side of our plates before diving into whatever is in front of us. However, dill is a staple in many kitchens in Europe and across Asia, is consumed both fresh and dried, and both the leafy ends and the seeds are eaten. It is used in that foundation of Russian cuisine, borscht, and in many cooking sauces (used both hot and cold) in the Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and Romania, as well as in the curing of salmon – for gravlax – and other fish and potato dishes. It is used to make teas and is included in many rotis and chapatis in India, and used as an ingredient in stir-fry style dishes in China, Laos and Vietnam. And let us not forget that culinary accompaniment that most of us in the west are familiar with, the humble dill pickle. The fine folks at www.allrecipes.com even have plenty of lovely recipes that contain dill, including this one:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Chill before serving with vegetables or crackers of your choice.
As with many other herbs, dill contains a plethora of nutritional properties as well. It has a considerable amount of niacin and dietary fiber, which is crucial to controlling blood cholesterol levels, and chemicals that can help diabetics in managing healthy blood sugar level. It has tremendous antimicrobial and immune-boosting general properties and is a major source of copper, potassium, calcium and magnesium. And it is rich in folic acid, beta carotene and riboflavin. But the real benefit of dill comes in the provision of vitamins A and C to the body. Vitamin A is key in maintaining good vision, and 100g of dill provides over twice the RDA. And the same serving of dill gives over 100% of the vitamin C recommended, which plays a vital role in boosting the immune system.