Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

dill Anethum graveolens, a herb indigenous to W. Asia, known in the Mediterranean region and S. Russia since long ago, has become naturalized in most of Europe and N. America and is now cultivated in many parts of the world.

However, although popular in W. Europe, dill has special associations with the Nordic countries, Poland, and Russia, where the leaves and seeds are used most abundantly, e.g. with fish—fried, boiled, and in particular gravlaks; on potatoes; for flavouring pickled cucumbers, gherkins, etc. (‘dill pickle’ is well known); with yoghurt and sour cream. The Nordic connection is apparent in the name dill itself, which derives from the Old Norse dilla meaning to lull (dill water is used for soothing babies in England; and dill is a main ingredient in the gripe water used for the same purpose).