Seeds along the Silk Route

Dill in my garden planted from seeds from Kashgar

 My daughter Ariel  plucked a dill flower from the garden . “Mmm tastes like plov.” It wasn’t a stretch of her gustatory imagination. Ten years ago, Ariel, Joel and I took a trip to Central Asia. Plov figured prominently on the menu in Uzbekistan and Western China. It may sound more familiar to you as rice pilaf. Plov is made with heavily fatted lamb, rice, shredded carrots and dill seed.

In Kashgar China we visited the Sunday market. At one time it was a prominent market town on the Silk Route. It is perhaps the world’s oldest continuing market.For the most part the market is steeped another era except for one fact. I renamed it the Polyester Route for the large amount of petrochemically derived fabrics that were on display for sale there. On the way to the market men were preparing huge cauldrons of plov for the crowds plying, trading and buying.

 On a dusty thouroughfare, a spice merchant was peddling his wares. As we bought his spices, a crowd gathered to observe us. I kept on choosing spices not so much out of need, but for the cultural interaction. It was fun! I brought the spices  home and let them rest in my pantry,using them most occasionally.

This Spring as I was planting my garden I went to pantry and found cumin seeds and dill seeds that I had bought ten years earlier. Would they still be viable? I casually tossed them in the ground. The cumin never germinated even though I made several efforts.[I since found out they need warmth to germinate.Maybe I will try again now.] The dill ? That is the beautiful dill you see in the photo, the taste of which reminded Ariel of plov.

recipe: This morning I made  summer salad from cucumbers from my office roof garden  and the dill that grew in the last century in Kashgar, China

1 cup nonfat yogurt

1 tablespoon light sour cream

2 teaspoons sugar

mix together in a serving bowl. Add chopped dill fronds and the tiny ends of the flowers to taste.

peel and thinly slice 2 medium cucumbers

Mix sauce and cucumbers and serve chilled

cucumber and kashgar dill salad

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