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Monday, July 04, 2011

Old-time Ukrainian favourite: Chicken in Dill Sauce

Dill is an all-time favourite in the Ukrainian kitchen. It is certainly one of my favourite herbs!

The Ukrainian word for dill is кріп (krip). I'm not sure of the Ukrainian etymology, but the English work for dill comes from the Norse word "dilla" which means to lull. It is for this calmative property that dill is best known medicinally.

Dill seeds contain a volatile oil that has a relaxant effect on muscles, especially those of the digestive tract. Teas made with dill seed relieve indigestion and nausea, and produce a lulling effect.

Gripe water is made with dill seed specifically as a remedy for colic in infants.

Even Charlemagne, in the 8th century knew of the curative properties of dill seed. He ordered crystal vial of it placed on his banquet tables to stop the hiccups of guests who ate and drank too much!

Dill is very rich in minerals, vitamin C and flavanoids. The seeds are particularly calcium-rich: 1 tablespoon contains 100 milligrams of calcium ...more than in 1/3 cup of milk!

Dill's soft taste marries well with sweet or sour cream and onion. Here's a delicious recipe for a traditional Ukrainian dish from Sylvia Molnar's collection:

1 frying chicken, cut into serving pieces
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
4 Tbsp. oil or butter (or a mix of both) for frying
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup water or chicken brot
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp flour

Mix flour, salt and pepper, and coat chicken pieces.

Brown chicken slowly in oil or butter (or mixture). Add the onion and garlice to the chickiena and sauté for two minutes.

Add water or broth and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Blend flour with cream, add dill and mix into the chicken. Heat to cook the flour, about five minutes (but do not boil).

Serve with rice, noodles or potatoes. (Serves 4.)

For a variation use sour cream instead of whipping cream, and add one cup of peas (fresh or frozen) and cook another 10 minutes.


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