home  Introduction History Technology Agro Associations Agro Scenario Career Opportunities

 Herbal Products
Amla Powder
Rosemary
Thyme
Mixed Herbs
Basil
Parsley
Sage
Mint
Rue
Angelica
Bay Leaf
Brahmi
Shikakai Powder
Bhring Raj
Oregano
Neem
Ashwagandha
 
 
 

 
 
Basil

Description
Basil can be described as a low growing aromatic perennial herb. It is native to India, Iran and to other tropical regions of Asia. The leaves of this plant used as a seasoning. Fresh basil has a pungent flavor that some describe as a cross between licorice and cloves. It has been key ingredient in Southeast Asian and Mediterranean cuisine. Actually there are many varieties of basil, that which is used in Italian food is typically called sweet basil, as opposed to Thai basil or holy basil, which are used in Asia.

Varieties of Basil
There are more than twelve varieties of basil that are cultivated for culinary puprpose. Sweet Basil, and

its close relative Genoa Basil are the most familiar varieties. Both produce fragrant, broad, deep green leaves in abundance. Their spiciness is the perfect compliment to ripe red tomatoes and soft cheeses such as fresh mozzarella and brie.

Other varieties of basil range in color from richly ruffled purple to pale mossy green. Each one has a distinctive taste, with its name revealing the underlying tones: Lemon Basil, Cinnamon Basil, Persian Anise Basil. Even their tiny flowers, which appear in swirls on slender spikes that extend high above the plants, are edible. Depending on the type, the flowers are either bright white, pale pink, or a delicate lavender. The flavor of the flower is milder, but similar to the leaves of the same plant. Sprinkle them over salad or pasta for a concentrated flavor and a spark of color that gives any dish a fresh, festive look.

 

Etymological Background
The name basil has been derived from the old Greek word basilikohn, which means royal/king reflecting that ancient culture's attitudes towards an herb that they held to be very noble and sacred.

According to the other etymological background "basil" originates from the Latin word basilicus, meaning dragon.

Legends and Traditions
Some traditions believed it sacred, others that it was dedicated to the Devil

 

Greeks believed it was an emblem of hatred, Italians that it was appropriate to lovers. In both Greece and Rome there were ancient rituals involving cursing when the herb was planted, which were believed to assist growth. In Moldavia it was a folk superstition that a sprig of basil flowers handed by a girl to a wayward lover would ensure the boy's fidelity and love.

Basil is much prized in India, where it is known as tulsi (or tulasi) and regarded as sacred to the god Vishnu and the goddess Lakshmi. It is grown in pots near Hindu homes and temples. It is used in cooking and is also believed to help secure children.

 

The Indian Connection
In India basil is known as tulasi. Tulasi is considered to be Radha (vrinda), Krishna's eternal sweetheart, and His childhood playground is called Vrindavan. Tulasi is also a firm devotee of Vishnu, who wanted to marry Him. Vishnu assumed the form of Saligrama, the holy stone, and the tulasi is always kept near it.

The tulasi leaf, when eaten, can control thirst, and so was invaluable to weary travellers. Soon, the plant acquired a religious significance, and became essential in worship.

 

Serving Tips

  • Combine fresh chopped basil with garlic and olive oil to make a dairy-free variety of pesto that can top a variety of dishes including pasta, salmon and whole wheat brushetta
  • Enjoy a taste of Italy by layering fresh basil leaves over tomato slices and mozzarella cheese to create this traditional colorful and delicious salad
  • Adding basil to healthy stir-fries, especially those that include eggplant, cabbage, chili peppers, tofu and cashew nuts will give them a Thai flair
  • Tea made from basil leaves is a stimulant
  • Puree basil, olive oil and onions in a food processor or blender and add to tomato soups
  • Enjoy a warm cup of invigorating basil tea by infusing chopped basil leaves in boiling water for eight minutes.
 

Nutritional Profile
Basil is an excellent source of vitamin K and a very good source of iron, calcium and vitamin A. In addition, basil is a good source of dietary fiber, manganese, magnesium, vitamin C and potassium.

Selection and Storage
Basil is available year-round. One must choose evenly colored leaves with no sign of wilting. Refrigerate basil, wrapped in barely damp paper towels and then in a plastic bag, for up to 4 days. Or store a bunch of basil, stems down, in a glass of water with a plastic bag over the leaves. Refrigerate in this manner for up to a week, changing the water every 2 days.

To preserve fresh basil, wash and dry the leaves and place layers of leaves, then coarse salt, in a container that can be tightly sealed. Alternatively, finely chop the cleaned basil and combine it with a small amount of olive oil or water.

Dried basil, though it bears little resemblance in either flavor or aroma to the fresh herb, can be purchased in the spice section of most supermarkets. Store dried basil airtight in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.

 
Untitled Document