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Updated: June 9, 2010 19:40 IST

Goodness of green

Rajesh Radhakrishan
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LEAVES YOU'LL LOVE: Basil Photo: S. Thanthoni
THE HINDU LEAVES YOU'LL LOVE: Basil Photo: S. Thanthoni

What's special about the Thai dish Kai Phad Kraphaw? It's the flavour of basil

Tulsi is a plant with immense healing properties. Also known as holy basil or hot basil, it is a herbaceous annual, 20-60 cm tall with hairy stems, round-oval leaves and white or reddish flowers. Basil essential oil has numerous biologically active constituents that are considered anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Fresh basil contains folic acid, while dried basil is a good source of potassium, iron and calcium. Basil can be used in the treatment of various respiratory disorders. A decoction of the leaves, with honey and ginger, is an effective remedy for bronchitis, asthma, influenza, cough and cold. A decoction of the leaves, with cloves and common salt, also gives immediate relief in case of influenza. Basil exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, making it a good food for people with arthritis.

Tulsi because of its healing properties has been indicated in the treatment of a variety of diseases in Ayurveda. Herbalists recommend basil for nausea and motion sickness, because of its antispasmodic properties. Basil's strong taste promotes the production of saliva, letting the body digest food properly.

Basil leaves and seeds have gained prominence in recipes all over the world. Basil leaves still forms an important ingredient in many Italian recipes such as pesto and various other dishes ranging from pizza to pasta and salads. Thai cuisine uses this herb widely to flavour various curries, stir fries and salads.

Here's a Thai recipe that uses the green leaf variety of tulsi or holy basil!

Kai Phad Kraphaw

Minced chicken in hot basil sauce

Preparation time: 6 minutes

Serves 2

Ingredients

Minced chicken: 250 gm

Chopped garlic: 5 gm

Fresh red chillies: 5 gm

Holy basil leaves: 30 gm

Spring onion whites: 15 gm

Sliced yellow chillies: 25 gm

Sliced onion: 30 gm

Sugar: 5 gm

Dark soy sauce: 10 ml

Oyster sauce: 15 gm

Chicken stock: 65 ml

Refined oil: 45 ml

Method: In a skillet, sauté garlic, sliced onions and fresh red chillies. Add the minced chicken and stir fry until the chicken is cooked. Add chicken stock and season with dark soy and oyster sauce. Add the hot basil, chopped spring onions and stir fry. Serve garnished with fried hot basil leaves. Served best with steamed rice.

Chef's note: One can substitute the minced chicken with mixed vegetable greens for a vegetarian version of the dish.

Rajesh Radhakrishan, Executive Chef, The Park.

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