20 grams of the finest quality cut dried Basil
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) of the Family Lamiaceae (mints) is a tender low-growing herb. Basil is a culinary herb prominently featured in Italian cuisine and also plays a major role in the Southeast Asian cuisines of Thailand Vietnam Cambodia and Laos. The plant tastes somewhat like anise with a strong pungent sweet smell.
There are many varieties of basil. That which is used in Italian food is typically called sweet basil as opposed to Thai basil lemon basil and holy basil which are used in Asia. While most common varieties of basil are treated as annuals some are perennial in warm tropical climates including African Blue and Holy Thai basil.
Basil is originally native to Iran India and other tropical regions of Asia having been cultivated there for more than 5 000 years
Basil is commonly used fresh in cooked recipes. It is generally added at the last moment as cooking quickly destroys the flavour. The fresh herb can be kept for a short time in plastic bags in the refrigerator or for a longer period in the freezer after being blanched quickly in boiling water. The dried herb also loses most of its flavour and what little flavour remains tastes very different with a weak coumarin flavour like hay.
The Chinese also use fresh or dried basils in soups and other foods. In Taiwan people add fresh basil leaves to thick soups. They also eat fried chicken with deep-fried basil leaves. Basil (most commonly Thai Basil) is commonly steeped in cream or milk to create an interesting flavor in ice cream or chocolates (such as truffles).
Basil is sometimes used with fresh fruit and in fruit jams and sauces-in particular with strawberries but also raspberries or dark-colored plums. Arguably the flat-leaf basil used in Vietnamese cooking which has a slightly different flavour is more suitable for use with fruit.
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.
Recently there has been much research into the health benefits conferred by the essential oils found in basil. Scientific studies have established that compounds in basil oil have potent antioxidant anti-cancer anti-viral and anti-microbial properties. In addition basil has been shown to decrease the occurrence of platelet aggregation and experimental thrombus in mice. It is traditionally used for supplementary treatment of stress asthma and diabetes in India.