Basil is one of the most important herbs, used in Thai, Italian and Indian cooking. Basil, sweet Italian (Ocimum basilicum) not only adds flavour to the food, but has many medicinal properties as well. It is used for healing many ailments in many tropical Asian regions. This aromatic herb has bright green leaves and can be grown in your garden on the ground or in pots. This plant grows approximately to a height of 45 cm.
Basil can be added directly to the salads or can be used as basil pesto, which can be added to egg, meat preparations. Chopped basil can be sprinkled on baked fish, lamb or chicken. Dried basil leaves can be used in any dish of your choice. Basil leaves are an important ingredient in tomato sauce. You need to add basil at the end of the cooking procedure to retain the minty aroma of the herb. It can be added to various soups and stews as well. It can be pureed by adding olive oil and this can be stored under refrigeration. This puree can be drizzled over many prepared food items like pizza.
Basil is a rich source of iron, vitamin K, beta carotene, etc. Apart from this, basil leaves also have anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps in keeping the arteries healthy and retarding the aging process. Basil when added to food improves digestion and reduces the fullness of the stomach. Chewing fresh basil leaves or drinking basil tea made of dried basil can soothe cough and cold and can relieve nausea. Oil of basil inhibits the action of pathogenic bacteria like Enterococci, Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus, Shigella, etc.
Basil can be grown easily from seedlings available from garden nurseries. The herb prefers warm temperatures and grows best when it receives at least 5 hours of sunlight every day. If growing from seeds, sow the seeds in well drained soil with a good amount of sunlight for at least 5 hrs a day. This plant cannot survive frost temperatures and requires moderate watering during warm climate. To promote the production of fresh leaves it is necessary to remove the flower buds as soon as it appears. You can grow it as a border in your outdoor garden or you can opt for growing them in pots indoors. Pruning the basil plants in every 2-3 weeks will improve growth. You can get quality plants from an online nursery in your country.