Botanical name:Ocimum basilicum ▪ Family name: Lamiacea
Basil is a culinary herb prominently featured in Italian cuisine, and also plays a major role in the Northeast Asian cuisine of Taiwan and the Southeast Asian cuisines of Thailand,Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Depending on the species and cultivar, the leaves may taste somewhat like anise, with a strong, pungent, often sweet smell.
In India, Hindus believe basil to have a protective influence over their homes and it is treated as a sacred herb, but it has had quite a different history in the West. In Greek tradition it is a symbol of disgrace, while other Western cultures have connected it with hatred, malice and equally sinister ideas. So unless we are to forgo the culinary delights basil has to offer, we should do well to take the Hindu line of thinking.
Major producers: India, Loas, Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan
Culinary uses: It is generally added at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavour. One very popular use of basil is with tomatoes, and this combination can form the basis of many tempting dishes. Basil is equally successful in cheese and egg dishes, and provides a happy accompaniment for more insipid vegetables. It often features in Italian cooking where it gives life to pizzas and pasta-based meals, while a combination of garlic and basil is memorable in spaghetti sauces and in rich meat sauces. It is certainly worthwhile to sprinkle some basil into rice and vegetable salads, and as with many herbs, it is delicious combined with cream cheese in sandwiches.
Basil is one of the main ingredients in pesto—a green Italian oil-and-herb sauce. Its other two main ingredients are olive oil and pine nuts.
Historical uses: They are used for their medicinal properties in Ayurveda, the traditional medicinal system of India and Siddha medicine, a traditional Tamil system of medicine. They are also used as popular drinks in Southeast Asia.
In addition to its other attributes, basil is said to cure gout and ease migraines.
Storage: Basil will keep for up to 2 years when stored in an airtight container.
It is available in 50g, 100g, 250g and 500g.