Holy Basil—Good to Cook With Too!

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Posted by admin | Posted in Holy Basil | Posted on 22-05-2010

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Holy basil is used to make refreshing herbal drinks. Experiment with it in soups, fish dishes and desserts. Dried basil leaves should ideally be boiled or steamed because frying destroys the delicate fragrance. The leaves are occasionally added as a seasoning to fruit dishes and sweet yeast breads. The fresh leaves are added to salads to produce a sweet anise-like flavor. The fresh or dried leaves and even the flower tops add tremendous taste to meats, especially chicken and holy basil blends well with hot, spicy foods, giving a cooling effect. Thais use this herb in fish, chicken and beef curries. It can be used in herb vinegar, stir-fries, chicken salad and in Szechuan sauce used with grilled chicken or fish. The mucilaginous seeds are sometimes consumed as are those of sweet basil.

Recipes:

Tulsi Kadha (Hot Basil Tea)
2 cardamom
2 cloves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 ½ cups water
2 tsp holy basil leaves, dried
honey to taste
Remove the cardamom seeds from their husks, then roughly crush with the cloves. In a heavy-bottomed pan, dry-roast the cloves, cardamom, cumin and fennel. As soon as they start smoking, add the water and then the holy basil. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Sweeten to taste with honey. Serve hot. (The Indian Spice Kitchen)

Tulsi Ka Sherbet (Iced Basil Tea)
2 Tbsp tea leaves
2½ cups water
2 tsp dried, holy basil leaves
sugar to taste
2 tsp lemon juice
crushed ice
4 lemon slices to garnish
Make the tea by adding the tea leaves to boiling water Drop in the holy basil and remove from the heat. Allow to cool, then strain. Mix the tea infusion, sugar and lemon juice. Serve in tall glasses over lots of crushed ice. Garnish with lemon slices and a fresh holy basil leaf if available. (The Indian Spice Kitchen)

Thai Beef with Basil
Preparation time: 20 minutes (the rice)
Peanut oil for cooking
1 Clove Garlic chopped
½ lb Beef sliced thin
1 medium shallot sliced thin
¼ cup mushroom (fresh or rehydrated)
1 Dried chili chopped
1 Tbsp fish sauce
½ Tsp palm sugar
2 Tbsp Holy Basil chopped
Holy Basil leaves for garnish
Heat peanut oil to just under smoking – stir fry garlic and beef for 2 minutes. Combine shallot, mushroom, chili, fish sauce, sugar and basil and add to wok. Stir fry briskly for 2 minutes. Serve over rice with basil leaf garnish.

Pad Gaprao Neua / Gai / Muu
Beef / Chicken / Pork with Holy Basil
500 g minced chicken, beef or pork
2 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 Tbsp chopped shallots
1 tablespoon chopped red chilli
1 tablespoon chopped green chilli
1 teaspoon green peppercorns
2 tablespoons palm sugar
¼ cup fish sauce
1 cup coarsely chopped holy basil leaves
The meat should not be too finely minced or it is difficult to cook without it sticking together.   The garlic, shallots, red chili and peppercorns are pounded together with a mortar and pestle.  Briefly stir-fry this paste to bring out the flavor and aroma. Add the sugar and stir-fry to melt, then the meat. Stir-fry until the meat is cooked through. Add the fish sauce, green chili and basil and cook until the basil wilts. The result should be a fairly dry loose mixture.  Serves 4

Clams Stir-Fried with Roasted Chili Paste and Fresh Basil
½ cup small dried red chilies
½ cup unpeeled shallots, halved lengthwise
¼ cup unpeeled garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
2 lbs. small clams, well scrubbed
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nampla)
1 cup holy basil leaves
1/3 cup sweet red pepper slices
To make the chili paste, place the chilies in a wok over low heat and dry-fry them until they darken, about five minutes. Transfer to a plate. Place the shallots and garlic in the wok over medium heat and dry-fry until soft and blistered, about 5 minutes. Trim the shallots and garlic, discarding the peels and root ends and place in a mortar (or food processor fitted with a metal blade). Stem the chilies and discard most of the seeds. Cut into small pieces and add to the mortar (or food processor). Pound (or pulse) the mixture until you have a smooth paste.
To make the clams, heat a wok over medium-high heat. When hot, add the 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the garlic and fry until golden, about 39 seconds. Add the clams and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the fish sauce and 2 tablespoons of the chili paste. Cook until the clams open and the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. When most of the clams have opened, add the basil and stir-fry for a few seconds. (Discard any clams that do not open; it means they are unfit to eat). Transfer to a platter and garnish with the red pepper.  Serves four.  Warning: This dish is very hot

Holy Basil Chicken
3 Tbsp peanut oil
2 large cloves garlic
2 chicken breasts, shredded into bit size pieces
2 Tbsp soy sauce
½ cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2-3 Tbsp dried holy basil leaves
Heat oil. Add garlic and when garlic turns golden brown, add chicken; brown quickly. Add mushrooms to chicken; cook a few minutes longer. Add soy sauce to taste. Put in holy basil leaves, lower heat and cover. All to cook 5 minutes more and serve with rice (Sage Advice)

References:
Culinary Herbs (NRC) , Ernest Small, NRC Research Press, 1997; ISBN: 0-660-16668-2
Indian Spice Kitchen: Essential Ingredients and Over 200 Authentic Recipes, Monisha Bharadwaj, Dutton, 1997; ISBN: 0-525-94343-9
The Roots of Healing: A Woman’s Book of Herbs, Deb Soule, Citadel Press, 1996; ISBN: 0-8065-1578-3
Sage Advice, Herb Society of Southwestern Virginia, 1991

Resources:
Companion Plants, www.companionplants.com plants
Crimson Sage, http://www.crimson-sage.com Plants

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