Basil is an aromatic herb which has many varieties, the most common being ‘sweet basil’ which is widely used in Italian and Southern French cooking. It is a herb said to have originated from India, but sweet basil should not be confused with tulsi, which is ‘holy basil.’ The other common varieties of basil include Thai basil, lemon basil and purple basil. Basil gets its name from a Greek word basileus which means king. Thus, known as king of herbs. The best sweet basil is grown in Genoa, capital of Liguria.
Basil grows very easily. It requires a good amount of sunshine and water. Basil is used in its fresh and dried form. Though, some amount of aroma and flavour is lost when it is dried but yet it is a good option when fresh basil is not available. Basil makes a wonderful combination with tomatoes. It is used to flavour pizzas, pastas, risottos, salads, stir fries and many more such dishes. It is best to tear basil leaves and add towards the end of the cooking process. A typically Italian use of basil is in the form of basil pesto. Pesto derives its name from an Italian word meaning ‘to pound’ as traditionally it was made using a pestle and mortar.