When people hear basil, most of them probably think of the common cooking herb often used in their favorite tomato sauces and so forth. But in many places, basil is considered to be much more then that.
Also known as Ocimum tenuiflorum, the word basil comes from the Greek word ‘basilicon’ which means royal. It is also associated with the basilisk, who was a mythical creature with a serpent-like caricature. According to lore, not only was the basilisk’s breath fatal, but so was it’s mere glance.
In India, basil is considered a very sacred plant and is kept in most homes throughout the country. It is thought that simply keeping basil in their homes offers an aura of protection. It is also a key component of Indian Ayurvedic medicine and is used as a form of cure-all, prescribed for a plethora of reasons.
In the Americas, some species of basil are known to ward off mosquitoes and other bothersome insects. Another good plant for this purpose is lavender. Basil is also a common houseplant in many North American households, often kept on windowsills or in outdoor gardens.
Basil is also sometimes added to incense. Although they do exist, it is not to common to find a straight basil incense, but more often the plant or oil is added in combination with others.
Synonyms: Sweet basil, Genovese basil
Origin: Tropical Asia and Africa, but basil is now cultivated worldwide.
Parts Used: Both fresh and dried leaf is the most commonly used portion of basil.
Fragrance: The scent of basil is both sweet and spicy. It has elements of fresh green and a slightly herbaceous quality. Faint balsamic undertones are there as well.
Goes well with: Basil can be combined with many other plants in cooking dishes, such as rosemary or thyme. It is also often soaked in olive oil or vinegar. One of the most well-known uses of basil is in classic Italian tomato sauces.
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