Botanical Name: Peucedanum graveolus or Anethum Sowa

Family: Apiaceae or Umbelliferae

Hindi Name: Sowa

Dill is indigenous to Mediterranean districts and South Russia. It is cultivated in England, Germany Rumania, Turkey, USA, Russia and its neighbouring countries, North Africa, India and other tropical countries.

Dill belongs to the parsley family, and requires well-drained sandy soil and a lot of sunshine. The sub-tropical and temperate regions of India produce high-quality dill. As a winter crop, the annual herb has a smooth surface, with finely dissected leaves, small yellow flowers, and elliptical, flattened fruits. The herb grows to a height of a metre, and its seeds yield the dill oil.

In most parts of the world, the word 'dill' is associated to the old norse 'dilla', meaning 'calm', 'soothe', as it was used to relieve stomach pain in babies due to its anti-flatulent power. In India, the dill fruits are larger than those in European countries, but are less fragrant. Dill is sweet and aromatic, intermediate between anise and caraway.

Its composition is as follows:

  • Volatile oil: 1.5-4 %
  • Minerals: 5.89-11.54 %
  • Ash: 0.55-2.71 %

The herb, especially when fresh, has a much sweet fragrance than dried fruits. The characteristic sweet taste of dill is popular all over Europe where it is mostly used for bread, vegetables, pickles and fish. It is indispensable for herb-flavoured vinegars as it adds depth and has a fragrant odour. In Russia and eastern Europe, dill is popular for pickled vegetables, either by pickling in vinegar or by lactic fermentation.

Dill is also one of the few herbs used in the cuisine of the Baltic states, where chopped dill is frequently used as garnish on various foods. Fresh dill leaves are 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. In India, dried dill fruits are occasionally used to flavour the lentil and bean dishes as well as dal.

Dill is also used to flavour potato dishes. Dried dill shows up in Georgia's famous spice mixture known as khmeli suneli. It is quite popular in Iran and used with boiled beans. Indian dill finds extensive use in foods, beverages and medicines. Its essential oil constitutes an important flavouring for the pickle industry.

Dill is stimulant, aromatic, carminative and stomachic. It is usually served as dill water to children to cure them of flatulence or disordered digestion. Dill oil is also used in perfuming soaps. Dill leaves are useful in increasing secretion and discharge of urine, and in Counteracting spasmodic disorders. The seeds are effective in respiratory and menstrual disorders, and are also used in the treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery.

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