Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thai Sweet Basil (Horapa)

Thai Sweet Basil or 'Horapa' is one of the common cultivar group of basil. It's a common herb used widely in Southeast Asia region especially in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. It's easy to grow them from the cuttings you purchased off the supermarket shelves. Just soak the cuttings in some clean water and change the water every 2 -3 days until you can see some rootings protruding from the stems. Then you plant it in quality soil in pots or garden. I planted in large pots with organic soil by itself because they root very fast and  agressively just like Lemongrass. Their roots will 'choke' other plants so, it's advisable to let them have their own territory...To have more leaves, cut the flowers off before they bloom or you can add the flowers to your Thai recipes or salad -  the colorful pinkish-white flowers add another dimension to your dishes! By the way, different species of basil has different color of flowers, smell/fragrance and leaf textures. For example, the Basilicum that is common in Europe has white flowers and broad green, soft leaves and lesser anise taste compared to Southeast Asian varieties.

Here's one my pots of Thai Basil with it's flowers and green-purple leaves...

The tiny seeds can be made into Basil Seed drinks (Nam Mangklak) like Falooda or Sherbet/Sharbat, you can mix it with honey or Bubble Tea... I also like mine added to fresh coconut juice with a little bit of rose syrup. It's also a common remedy for fever or during hot season to cool down the body heat and aids digestion. Besides it's important usage in various cuisines and in essential oils, basil plays important role in cultural aspects of ancient civilisations, even today, it's highly regard in religions and beliefs...

Another FUN part is... the basil seeds looked like frog's eggs because the seeds became gelatinous when soaked in water with its' tiny black dot in the centre, wobbly,oogly... ok, ok, ok no more details... :-D

Oh, have a read of Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron and John Keats' narrative poem Isabella or The Pot of Basil

One thing for sure, basil is always welcome in my kitchen and its within reach means I can enjoy my favourite Basil dishes anytime I want... from simple sambal or salad to fried rice! The choices are endless...

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