Saturday, March 03, 2007

Na Jaane Kahaan Dill Kho Gayaa

In which Ludwig speaks of matters of heart

After many moons, today we made our first batch of tzatziki. Now there is a school of thought which unequivocally holds that you can't make a tzatziki without dill. Dill, as far as we can tell, is not be found in India. We have searched high and low, in river and vale and so on. Well...we looked in several Food Worlds scattered across Hyderabad, Q-Mart in Banjara Hills and Amma Naana in Raja Annamalaipuram in Madras.

Parsley, you will find, in pestilential quantities. Sage, definitely. Rosemary, most assuredly. The thyme has come for at least one of these places to stock dill. dill, dill, dill, main tere pyaar mein khoyaa..., and so on. We will be very grateful if someone can tell us where dill is to be found in peninsular India. The Orthodox School of tzatziki also holds that you need red wine vinegar. Whence, pray, are we who live in Begumpet to produce red wine vinegar from? We settled for a dash of regular vinegar.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. With this maxim in mind, and a recipe at hand, we started. The Ludwig Heresy in the art of tzatziki making is like so:

  1. Make curds. That is, boil milk, allow it to cool to body temperature, skim off the cream, add previous generation curd, let it set overnight.
  2. Take a piece of fine cloth. Cheesecloth is recommended, we settled for a section of superannuated veshti. Tie the curd in it, and hang contraption over sink or a bowl, and let all the water out. This will also take a night or so. At the end, you'll be left with a very pasty kind of 'dry' curd.
  3. Now more or less follow the steps in the recipe.
  4. At the last moment, instead of dill, add mint. Or somesuch.


We just sampled the first batch. Must say it came out rather well, given all the dill type constraints. Maybe a little bit too much of garlic. All the better to keep Lucy Westenra at bay. If one desires to keep Lucy Westenra at bay, that is.

Anyway, we ramble. So that's that. tzatziki - check. In celeberation of matters of dill, we give you a pome.

To Manijeh
                        -Vikram Seth

O Scorpio-cat
When you have gone
My eyes will turn
To lumps of stone.

I'll look at ice
And think of how
You called it 'bairf'.
I'll eat pilao

And taste your touch
Where it won't be.
How will I bear
To read Rumi?

Raga Darbari,
The taste of dill
And all clean mirrors
Will make me ill.

Windex will lie
Where it was laid,
The record player
Sit unplayed,

And dill may grow
Ten feet in height
But will no longer
Yield delight.

At reference to
Shirazi Turks
My stricken heart
Will beat in jerks -

But worst, some random
Woman's clear laugh
Will neatly cut
My liver in half.

Nice, no? We likes.

UPDATE: Inspired by Indu and co. (see comments), we have embarked on a virtual search for dill in India. The following nuggets exist:

  • Sabakshi Soppu Curry - Apparently the damn 'erb has been around for dogs years, posing as Sabakshi or Kamakshi or somesuch
  • This page is disturbingly titled "Dill(Soya)". It goes on to say that there are two kinds of dill, Indian and European. It has the chemical composition of dill! And to really prove how crazy they are, they tell us that
    On steam distillation, Indian Dill yields 1.5 to 4.0 % volatile oil, while European Dill grown under Indian conditions yields 2.5 to 4.0 %.
    Steam distillation, it seems. "On steam distillation, a kitten yields 200% 20,000 decibel yowls..." Ouch.
  • All India Spice Exporters Forum - Their dill page is probably the most authoritative in all the land...
  • doesn't add a whole lot of new information, but check this out:
    India is the primary producer of dill seed for culinary use.
    No kidding!
  • Gernot Katzer's spice pages also have a page on the elusive dill. The etymology section is fascinating.

The search continues. Dill dhoondta hai...


Space Bar said...

I apprive of cookery and poetry for enginners?! engineers are people too?!

red wine vinegar i don't know but white wine vinegar definitely available at q-mart. they might have pickled dill...guessing that won't do?

Ludwig said...

> cooking for enginners?!

hey, hey, hey! we deserve to eat too, y'know...

i settled for regular old vinegar. have no clue what this "wine vinegar" business is all about.

> they might have pickled
> dill...guessing that won't do?

hmm. think not...dill in its fresh herb form will be needed.

kbpm said...

a plain old kosambari or a raita won't do for you i suppose.

had to go with that Greek monstrosity that the boss used to eat just before afternoon meetings with the group. used to breathe that garlic fire on poor old F1-visas. but arguably his spirits rose proportionately with the amount of garlic in the tzatsiki so we did not mind as much.

and engineer is all fine but everyone and their grandmom knows that first of all with cucumbers you snip off the ends and rub them on the rest and remove out white stuff to get rid of bitterness.

dill? i have seen dried dill here i think. should i send some?

Indu said...

I am positive Dill can be found in Bangalore by the name of '__soppu' (= __akukura). You might also find it's applications at Zac's Young Cafe, an Arabian eatery. Haven't been there myself but read about it.

indu said...

It's called Sabakshi Soppu. More here...

Ludwig said...

[kbpm] plain old raita for me? hmph. of course not. and don't call it a Greek monstrosity. it's a wonderful creation of the Hellenic world. mmm.

whachyoutalkingabout w.r.t snipping off ends of cucumber and rubbing on rest?

don't send. i might come and collect.

[indu] ah, so this is what it takes to get the fly-on-the-wall types to comment here...

dill = sabakshi? sounds damn unlikely! really? i've never even heard of this name. me! imagine!! with my vast linguistic knowledge and vaster appetite...

Swathi said...

ah, sounds similar to the concoction i conjured in my kitchen last nite....tsk,tsk,must say we stick to desi raitas.

do check 24Lettered Mantra in #12,B.Hills for all assorted fresh herbs.

Ludwig said...

[swathi] hey, thanks for the tip. and try tsatziki, it's quite yum. is that "#12" = "Road No. 12" or is it a door number, with road number missing?

kbpm said...

hey that soppu thing reminds me! i think we call it Sop-Si-Gay soppu. There used to be early morning screams of 'Sop-Si-Gay Soppoooo..' in good old Mysore.
It is widely available in the (wet) vegetable markets in Mumbai and Mysore, and I suspect its only a matter of finding its Telugu name, & getting off high horse and visiting local veg markets and not some Qsomething Mart somethingorother.

Uf, boys, dont know how to treat a cucumber right. You know its ends are like tapering right. Now slice that part from both ends. Take & rub on main cylindrical part of cucumber. White goo is bound to accumulate around. Remove deftly using end-slice as scoop. Throw. Now proceed to do with cucumber as you see fit. I warn that this step is critical.

Ludwig said...

[kbpm] gosh, bloody dill is all over the bloody place, eh?

> getting off high horse and
> visiting local veg markets

my, my. us mingle with the hoi polloi? no, no.

> Uf, boys, dont know how to
> treat a cucumber right

umm...yes...if you say so.

> You know its ends are like
> tapering right.

am dimly aware of this.

> Take & rub on main cylindrical
> part of cucumber

this and all i figured out. what you're refusing to divulge, in the manner of some secretive Ph. D. type, is - "is the damn cucumber peeled/skinned/whathaveyou, or not?"


Anonymous said...

In Telugu it is called Shatapushpamu or Vakataraha, if it would really help.

kbpm said...

do the secret thing *before* peeling for best effect.

Ludwig said...

[anonymous] Thanks. How's Virginia? :P

[kbpm] You da person.

Sheetal said...

Too late, I suppose, to add two-bit - dish of unpronounceable name will have been consumed. Still dried herb is being available in bottle at Earth Shop somewhere in Banjara Hills.
Doondhne se milega... dill dill hai koi heera toh nahin!

Pipa said...

Ha, ha, ha.

I finally found out who you are you.

Rather, I was told.

madrasi said...

chee. It is only sozhi keerai; very much available in and around Paandi Bazaar.
You are putting too much scene for this.