Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Basil Leaves

Sciencetific Name : Ocimum basilicum

English : Basil Leaf

Malay: Daun Selasih or Kemagi

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) (IPA: /ˈbæzəl/or /ˈbeɪzəl/), of the Family Lamiaceae. Basil is a tender low-growing herb that is grown as a perennial in warm, tropical climates. Basil is originally native to Iran, India and other tropical regions of Asia, having been cultivated there for more than 5,000 years. There are many varieties of basil. That which is used in Italian food is typically called sweet basil, as opposed to Thai basil, lemon basil and holy basil, which are used in Asia. It is prominently featured in Italian cuisine, and also plays a major role in the Southeast Asian cuisines of Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. It grows to between 30–130 cm tall, with opposite, light green, silky leaves 3–11 cm long and 1–6 cm broad. The flowers are quite big, white in color and arranged in a terminal spike. Unusual among Lamiaceae, the four stamens and the pistil are not pushed under the upper lip of the corolla, but lay over the inferior. After entomophilous pollination, the corolla falls off and four round achenes develop inside the bilabiate calyx. The plant tastes somewhat like anise, with a strong, pungent, sweet smell. Basil is very sensitive to cold, with best growth in hot, dry conditions. While most common varieties are treated as annuals, some are perennial, including African Blue and Holy Thai basil.

Basil seeds

When soaked in water the seeds of several basil varieties become gelatinous, and are used in Asian drinks and desserts such as
falooda or sherbet. Such seeds are known variously as sabza, subza, takmaria, tukmaria, falooda, selasih (Malay/Indonesian) or hột é (Vietnamese). They are used for their medicinal properties in Ayurveda, the traditional medicinal system of India.

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