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AROMATIC HERB Basil
AROMATIC HERB Basil

Try making Basil Pesto Sauce. It goes well with pasta

Basil is an annual that gets its name from the Greek term ‘basileus’ meaning ‘King’ because it was observed to have a royal fragrance. Basil originates in Africa and Asia and was thought to have been a herb that Alexander the Great brought to Greece in about 350 BC.

Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a sun-loving herb with aromatic leaves. It has a pleasant, spicy smell and taste and is cultivated extensively in France, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Morocco, and the United States (Arizona, California, New Mexico, North Carolina), Greece and Israel. There are different types of sweet basil — large and dwarf forms, with green, purple, or variegated leaves. Many of these widely-grown plants are ornamental, as well as edible.

Medicinal value

Basil is considered a strong antibacterial and antispasmodic. It has been used to treat whooping cough and when applied to insect bites or venomous bites can draw out the poison. Basil contains vitamins A, D, B2, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. The oil has been used to treat wounds and bruises. The leaves have been used as an appetite stimulant, a remedy for gas, and a means of ridding the body of excess fluid. In Asian medicine, the leaves are used to treat poor circulation, stomach cramps, bad breath, inflammations, clouded vision, earache, kidney disease, and ringworm. To relieve sore gums, gargle often with tea made from eight basil leaves in a cup of boiling water. A basil leaf tucked into the mouth over an ulcer and kept there for as long as possible will ease the pain.

Culinary uses

Basil is usually recommended for use either fresh or in cooked recipes. It is generally added at the last moment, as cooking destroys the flavour quickly. Mediterranean and Indochinese cuisines frequently use basil, the former frequently combining it with tomato. Basil is one of the main ingredients in pesto — a green Italian oil-and-herb sauce. It can be used to flavour foods and is used mainly with tomato, although it can also be used in salads, to flavour vinegar, to complement egg dishes and sometimes in teas. It is occasionally used with fresh fruit and in fruit jams and sauces, particularly with strawberries. It is also used with raspberries or dark-coloured plums. Now for a recipe.

Basic Pesto Sauce Ingredients

Fresh basil leaves: one-third cup

Garlic, crushed: 2 cloves

Pinch of salt

Pine kernels: half cup

Parmesan cheese: three-fourth cup

Olive oil: half cup

Method: Blend the basil leaves in a blender with garlic and olive oil. Add the pine kernels and the grated parmesan cheese. Blend to a fine paste that has a smooth and glossy appearance. This paste can be blended with any pasta and served with a tsp of thick pesto on the side. This is a paste commonly used by Italians in their cuisine.

RISHI MANUCHA

Sous Chef, Taj Connemara

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