Thursday, January 19, 2012

Herbs for Cooking: Dill

Dill
From the Garden to the Kitchen to the Pot of Stew

Middle: Dill looks like fir
I love the tall stalks of Indian dill that grows in my garden. They stand really tall and grow like weeds. Here in my country, it’s a weed. People say they block mosquitoes, and grow them in large amounts by fences as a mosquito barrier.

Dill grows so well during the rainy season. I stuck the sticks of dill from a friend into my garden, and they began to grow. In fact, my dill plant began to grow later than my rosemary plant, but the rosemary is tiny and precious whereas the dill is taller than me now.

Imagine my glee last year, when my dill plant was merely sprouting, when I visited my grandparents to find a lot of dill growing wild over their cemented garden. I mean – a lot of dill, growing like weeds. I stuffed plastic-bags full of them in excitement and lugged them home. I spent an entire afternoon stripped the fragrant, wispy leaves off the stems. Soon I had a roasting-pan full, which dried into two tubs, which I kept on top of the oven and used whenever I could.

Season roast chicken with some dill?
Mmm… I added ground dill to roast chicken, to chicken stew, to grilled fish, to soup, to tea, to pasta, to frying onions, to potatoes, to grilled vegetables, to eggplants, to soup; it’s one of my favorite herbs because it blends so well with other ingredients. The Indians believe that it has anti-gas properties, as do most herb websites. I use it as a seasoning for lots of things. It’s so useful, and so easy to get! Plus it’s a natural seasoning so beneficial to our health. I always say that what God created is good for us, whereas what man invents is bad.

Dill in my herb-garlic-butter toasted bread... delicious and fragrant, not too much or it'll be overwhelming
My maternal grandparents were amazed that this wild plant that pervaded their garden can be used to eat. I wouldn’t have known either, save for my great aunty-friends who know all these things. I cooked for my grandparents several times using this herb, making grilled Cajun fish and pasta.

My paternal grandmother has amazing green fingers. She used to grow dill too, as the “mosquito plant”. It was very profuse, but she ended up throwing a lot of it away, because there was so much and it grew so quickly. I can’t think of how many people don’t know what a delicious herb they are growing in their garden, useful for so many more things than repelling mosquitoes.

Don’t get me wrong. Mosquitoes are one of my biggest problems. They are such a pest and plague. It’s just that dill has so much more potential than what people realize.

I mean, it’s used as a vegetable in India, as well as an herb in European, Middle Eastern, and Swedish cooking.

Maybe I should launch a campaign titled “Save Our Dill – Use It”! 

Here's how to use it
1) Grow dill in your garden, somewhere near a fence. If you have an outdoor kitchen, plant dill all around it.
Cut stalks of dill
Dry it like that
2) Use the leaves freshly plucked, or harvest and dry them. How to harvest? Trim off long stalks of dill, and pluck the leaves off the stem - it comes off quickly and easily in a sweeping motion. Replant the cut the stalk. Then, collect all the leaves in a baking tray/pan, leaving it near a window, or outdoors on a BBQ grill, to dry. When it is completely dry, you can use it as-is or blend the dry leaves fine and put it in a spice bottle. 








5 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Hey loves2spin, I'm so sorry I accidentally deleted your comment! I was trying to make sure all the comments were posted. Can't get my way around this new blogger dashboard!


      loves2spinJan 28, 2012 07:07 AM

      Wonderful! Thank you for this post! I will definitely add dill to the garden list this year.

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  2. I agree, great post! Timely too because I just an hour ago brought home a bunch of dill from the farmer's market, too much to use in my planned recipe, and I was thinking "How do I go about drying it?" Thanks!

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  3. Thank you for posting... very interesting! I have a question: Your instructions say to replant the cut stalk after harvesting the dill... Will it grow again?? I tried dill in my garden the last two years and it's one of two herbs (cilantro) I can't seem to get growing. Everything else does fine. Any additional info you have regarding replanting the cut stalks would be helpful. Thanks :)

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    1. It's my pleasure... I am not exactly very sure on the exact genus of the dill I grow. According to the Indians (and they know) it is dill, but what kind of dill, exactly what species, I am not sure until it flowers then I can be absolutely sure it is the same as European dill. However it can be used in the same way.

      According to the internet, European dill must be grown from seed, but what I do with my dill is to plant the sticks in the ground and water frequently. Maybe you can try soaking it in water, changing each day, or adding root hormone if you're okay with what. You can make root hormone from willow trees.

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