Dill (Anethum graveolens) is in the celery family (Apiaceae) and native to Western Asia. It is found in most parts of the world and is the most common spice produced in Germany. Dill is best used fresh, but you can also buy dried dill leaves and dill heads. Dill tips are the best part of the herb to use, but you can also use immature dill as well as the entire plant that grows aboveground. Dill is rarely found growing wild in Central Europe, but there is a possibility that it could be confused with hemlock.
From Wikipedia: “Dill (Anethum graveolens) is an annual herb in the celery family Apiaceae. It is the only species in the genus Anethum. Dill is widely grown in Eurasia where its leaves and seeds are used as a herb or spice for flavouring food.”
“Fresh and dried dill leaves (sometimes called "dill weed" to distinguish it from dill seed) are widely used as herbs in Europe and central Asia.
Like caraway, the fernlike leaves of dill are aromatic and are used to flavor many foods such as gravlax (cured salmon) and other fish dishes, borscht and other soups, as well as pickles (where the dill flower is sometimes used). Dill is best when used fresh as it loses its flavor rapidly if dried; however, freeze-dried dill leaves retain their flavor relatively well for a few months.
Dill seed, having a flavor similar to caraway but also resembling that of fresh or dried dill weed, is used as a spice. Dill oil is extracted from the leaves, stems and seeds of the plant. The oil from the seeds is distilled and used in the manufacturing of soaps.
Dill is the eponymous ingredient in dill pickles: cucumbers preserved in salty brine and/or vinegar.”
- European cuisine: “In central and eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Baltic states, Russia, and Finland, dill is a popular culinary herb used in the kitchen along with chives or parsley. Fresh, finely cut dill leaves are used as topping in soups, especially the hot red borsht and the cold borsht mixed with curds, kefir, yoghurt, or sour cream, which is served during hot summer weather and is called okroshka. It is also popular in summer to drink fermented milk (curds, kefir, yoghurt, or buttermilk) mixed with dill (and sometimes other herbs).
In the same way, prepared dill is used as a topping for boiled potatoes covered with fresh butter – especially in summer when there are so-called "new", or young, potatoes. The dill leaves can be mixed with butter, making a dill butter, which can serve the same purpose. Dill leaves mixed with tvorog form one of the traditional cheese spreads used for sandwiches. Fresh dill leaves are used all year round as an ingredient in salads, e.g., one made of lettuce, fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, the way basil leaves are used in Italy and Greece.
- Asian and Middle Eastern cooking: “In Iran, dill is known as shevid and is sometimes used with rice and called shevid-polo. It is also used in Iranian aash recipes, and is also called sheved in Persian. In India, dill is known as "Sholpa" in Bengali, shepu (शेपू) in Marathi and Konkani, savaa in Hindi or soa in Punjabi. In Telugu, it is called Soa-kura (for herb greens). It is also called sabbasige soppu (ಸಬ್ಬಸಿಗೆ ಸೊಪ್ಪು) in Kannada. In Tamil it is known as sada kuppi(சதகுப்பி). In Malayalam, it is ചതകുപ്പ (chathakuppa) or ശതകുപ്പ (sathakuppa).
In Laos and parts of northern Thailand, dill is known in English as Lao coriander (Lao: ຜັກຊີ, Thai: ผักชีลาว) and served as a side with salad yum or papaya salad. In the Lao language, it is called phak see, and in Thai, it is known as phak chee Lao. In Lao cuisine, Lao coriander is used extensively in traditional Lao dishes such as mok pa (steamed fish in banana leaf) and several coconut milk-based curries that contain fish or prawns.
In Vietnam, the use of dill in cooking is regional; it is used mainly in northern Vietnamese cuisine.
In Arab countries, dill seed, called ain jaradeh (grasshopper's eye), is used as a spice in cold dishes such as fattoush and pickles. In Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, dill is called shibint and is used mostly in fish dishes. In Egypt, dillweed is commonly used to flavor cabbage dishes, including mahshi koronb (stuffed cabbage leaves). In Israel, dill seed is used to spice in salads and also to flavor omelette alongside parsley, and is called "Shamir".”
“In Anglo-Saxon England, as prescribed in Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England (also called Læceboc, many of whose recipes were borrowed from Greek medicinal texts), dill was used in many traditional medicines, including those against jaundice, headache, boils, lack of appetite, stomach problems, nausea, liver problems, and many other ills. Dill seeds can also be used to prepare herbal tea.
In India the leaves of dill and other greens are used to prepare a variety of local dishes which are served as an accompaniment to rotis or chapatis.
In ancient Greece fragrance was made from the leaves of dill. Also, athletes used to spread essence of dill all over their body, as muscle toner.”
“The dried ripe seeds and the entire fresh plant can be used as a medicinal herb.
The active ingredients include essential oil that contains carvone as the main component as well as limonene and dill apiol; the typical smell comes from phellandrene and dill ether; other active components include coumarin and caffeic acid derivatives.
Uses: Dill seeds can help stimulate the appetite, relieve gas and bloating, and help with menstrual cramps. In natural medicine, dill is used today primarily to treat digestion problems such as bloating and gas as well as abdominal pain. It has been shown that consuming dill seeds can increase progesterone levels, which would make clear why dill has been used to treat menstrual cycle problems and infertility. However, data from clinical studies are not yet available.*”
“Dill keeps best when it is cooled rapidly to a temperature range of 1 to 0 °C and at a relative humidity of 95 %. If you store dill in plastic wrap, it will stay good for two to three weeks.*”
Origin and classification:
“Dill was introduced as a cultivated plant in Ancient Egypt and used as a medicinal and culinary herb. Pharoh Amenophis II (1400 BCE) had dill placed in his tomb … Dill was also used as a culinary herb in ancient Greece and Rome. More than 5000 years ago, dill spread from the Eastern Mediterranean region westwards toward the Atlantic.*”
“Within the species Anethum graveolens, there are three taxons that are classified as either varieties or subspecies:
- garden dill (Anethum graveolens var. hortorum Alef.), which contains primarily carvone in the essential oil
- wild dill (Anethum graveolens var. graveolens)
- Indian dill (Anethum graveolens subsp. sowa (Roxb. ex Flem.) Koren'; bzw. fo. sowa), similar to garden dill, albeit less fragrant. Most notably, it contains dill apiol and carvone.*”
Note (italics): * = Translation from a German Wikipedia entry