“Kamakasturi” is a common plant found growing alongside the holy basil / Tulasi in backyards of most of the houses in South India. This common plant is the exotic herb known as Thai Basil or Sweet Basil used in most of the Thai and Italian cuisines. The strong flavor adds an element of exoticism in the dish.
Botanical name is Ocimum basilicum. Thai Basil plant grows up to 3 feet in height and has purple-green wide, lance-like fragrant leaves. In Thai it is known as Bai Horapha. The flowers are tiny white clusters blooming on a purple stems. The seeds are black with a white transparent jelly covering. The seeds are also used in various cuisines. I have tasted them in the Indian dessert Falooda. The seeds are known as Sabja in India.
Due to the fragrance, the leaves are used in between flowers while making garlands. The leaves and flowers are used to worship Gods.
Flights to Thailand can take you to the place where this exotic herb is used in various dishes to suit every palate. You can also try to grow these plants in your backyard or balcony to bring the fresh flavor of herb to the dishes churned out in your kitchen.
The different parts of this plant are used to prepare medicines.
Basil seeds aids in digestion, keeps the body cool, and makes the skin glow. It is found to control blood sugars and thus helps prevent heart attacks and strokes. The leaves help in keeping tummy worms at bay, reduce menstrual cramps, reduce diarrhea and dysentery, controls inflammation, and increases appetite. Usually, the seeds are soaked in water and then consumed.
Oil is extracted from the leaves to treat many body aches and pains.
The plant is propagated by seeds. Sow them in loose soil either in pots or in beds. Plant them in full sun and keep pruning the plants for a bushy growth. Water every day and feed with manure once in fifteen days. Mist the plant with diluted Neem Oil to keep pests away.
To collect seeds, let the flowers dry naturally.
Recipes using Thai Basil:
Basmati Rice and Yellow Pepper Salad
Barley Summer Salad
Italian Black Rice
Spaghetti in Marinara Sauce
Mint and Tomato Pizza
Raw Mango Apple Salad
Rice and Lentils Stuffed Capsicum
Turnip and Apple Salad
Steamed Vegetables Tossed in Herbs
Red Pepper Soup
Conchigli Pasta Tomato