Basil derived its name from Greek basileus which means "king". This is because it has a royal fragrance. Basil is one of the most popular culinary herb, used the world over for its aroma and flavor. The herb is native to Asia and has a strong, pungent and sweet smell. The herb grows best in hot, dry conditions.
Basil was first put to cultivation in India. It is cultivated world over now, including Asia, Africa and Central and Southern America.
Uses and Types of Basil:Basil is a versatile herb used in food, beverage and aromatherapy. Different types of Basil are cultivated in different types of the world.
Some of the popular and widely used varieties are:
Mediterranean Basil: Sweet taste Italian Basil: Sweet Flavor Indian Basil: Strong Fragrance African Blue Basil: Citrus Odour Thai Basil/ Sweet Basil: Sweet basil, more sweet as compared to Mediterranean and Italian Basil. It grows to a height of 75cm (2ft 6in) Perennial Basil (Africa And Asia): Strong Flavor but is less pleasant Lemon Basil: It grows to a height of 30cm (12in) and posses the taste of mid lemon.
Selection and Storage: Always try to select fresh basil since it is superior in flavor as compared to dries basil. If you are selecting fresh Basil then ensure that the leaves are deep green in color and free from darks spots or yellowing. If you have bought fresh Basil, then store it in the refrigerator by wrapping it in a slightly damp paper towel.
Nutritional Value of Basil: The constituents found in basil are used for various medical purposes. Flavonoids is one of the important nutrient component found in basil that provides protection at the cellular level. Orientin and vicenin are two water-soluble flavonoids that have a positive effect on white blood cells.
Volatile oils, which contain estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene protect against unwanted growth of Bacteria. The eugenol component acts as anti inflammatory.
Basil is also a good source of magnesium due to which it prompts muscles and blood vessels to relax, this helps in promoting cardiovascular health.
by Chandana Banerjee