How to Make Medicinal Recipes by Basil or Ocimum
Being a versatile and widely used aromatic herb, basil is an annual plant. It easily grows from seed but is sensitive to cold temperature. The plant nicely grows in warm climates and is commonly used throughout the southern Europe, especially in Mediterranean, and in many parts of Asia and southeast Asia.
There are various species of basil; with the scent resembling lemon, cloves, pineapple or cinnamon etc. Some species have beautiful purple leaves instead of being green in color.
Fresh Basil Pesto
In order to prepare the pesto, take fresh basil leaves ( 2 cups ), pine nuts or walnuts ( 1/3 cup ), and mix in a food processor. Pulse the pine nuts, if they are not chopped already, then add the basil leaves. Then add the minced garlic cloves (3 medium sized), and pulse again.
Add the olive oil ( 1/2 cup ), slowly into the working processor, as a regular stream. Then stop the processor and scrape its sides with a rubber or wooden spatula. Add the freshly grated Parmesan cheese( 1/2 cup ), and pulse to blend. Put salt to taste and add freshly ground black pepper.
Now serve the pesto with pasta or over baked potatoes etc.
Based on the ingredients, the pesto is always made according to the required taste. Generally, Parmesan cheese is used in pesto, But for strong flavors, Romano too can be used. Also, the walnuts can be used instead of pine nuts.
Exclude the cheese, if pesto is to freeze because the cheese doesn't freeze well. Freeze it and then remove from the ice tray and add the grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.
The pesto is traditionally made by pounding the contents together in a mortar and pestle, hence the name pesto has come from the word pestle.
Basil Tomato Soup with Garlic Toasts
Take tomato paste (1 cup), tomato juice ( 18 oz ), heavy cream ( 3/4 cup ), chicken broth ( 1/2 cup ), salt ( 2 tbsp ), freshly ground black pepper ( 1 tbsp ), and Roma tomatoes ( 2 diced ). Boil these contents on medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Stir occasionally on medium-low heat and cook till the contents are reduced by one-third.
Prepare a smooth puree of the soup in an immersion blender and keep it warm over low heat.
Put the French bread or Italian bread ( 4 slices, 1/2 inch thick ), in the toaster. When the slices come out, just brush them with extra virgin olive oil. Now sprinkle the garlic powder ( 1/2 tbsp ), kosher salt ( 1 tbsp ) and pepper( 1 tbsp ) in the slices and set them aside.
Add fresh basil leaves ( 1 cup ), to the tomato puree and let them steep for 5 minutes over low heat, and then remove the leaves.
Take individual bowls and garnish them with sprigs of basil, serve the warm soup with garlic toast.
Take basil, cilantro, garlic powder, marjoram, oregano, crushed red pepper ( flakes ), rosemary, sage, savory and thyme.
Mix the contents well, or pulse about for a minute in a food processor and store in an airtight container. Make according to requirements.
Prepare the seasoning with an equal amount of contents or as per your likings.
Other spices are optional but basil, marjoram, oregano, and sage are essential in the seasoning.
The Thai "kraphao mu"
The phat kraphao mu ( holy basil and minced pork ), phat kraphao kai ( holy basil and minced chicken ) or phat kraphao kung ( holy basil and chopped prawns ), are common and popular dishes in Thailand. The phat kraphao nuea ( holy basil and minced beef ) is not eaten very often but is almost always served together with phat nam pla, which is a mixture of sliced garlic, lime juice, fish sauce and chopped chilies.
To prepare the kraphao mu, take minced pork, holy basil, sliced or chopped garlic, chilies or paprika ( if the spicy flavor is not needed ), and soy sauce and fish sauce according to taste.
White Bean Soup with Basil, Rosemary and Garlic Croutons
Take drained white beans such as cannelloni (two cans each 16 ounce), chicken broth (low sodium, 2 cups), marinara pasta sauce (1 cup), minced garlic cloves (2 large pieces ),fresh basil leaves (1/4 cup), or dried basil leaves (1 tbsp ), minced fresh rosemary (1 tsp), red pepper flakes (1/4 tbsp).
Make a smooth puree of the ingredients in a blender. pour into a large saucepan. Bring the contents to simmer by partially covering it and stir frequently to blend flavors for 4-5 minutes.Garnish with croutons and serve.
Thai Fish Curry with Basil
Due to its distinctive hot flavor which is quite different from regular basil or the Thai basil, the holy basil (or kraphao ) is used as an essential and important constituent of Thai curry or Thai cooking.But in Mediterranean regions, the basil and tomato is a favorite combination.
The delectable fish curry, of 2-4 serves curry can be prepared in just 20 minutes. Here the fillets of fish of any type (fresh or frozen) are simmered in a rich sauce of Thai curry. The vegetables, shrimp or other seafood can also be used.
To prepare the Thai curry sauce, take chopped fresh coriander stems and leaves (1/2 cup), good-quality coconut milk (1 can), sliced green onions with stem (4 pieces), grated ginger (1 thumb size piece), 4 cloves (4 , garlic (2 tbsp), fish sauce (available in market), regular chili powder (1 tbsp), ground cumin (2 tbsp), ground coriander (2 tsp), brown sugar (2 tbsp), turmeric (1/2 tbsp), shrimp paste (1 tbsp), red chili (1 fresh, or 2 tbsp minced, or 1/2 tbsp cayenne, or dried crushed chili, or 1-2 tsp chili sauce).
To make a smooth curry sauce, blend the above ingredients in a food processor, pour it into a large frying pan and boil over medium to high heat.If available add kaffir lime leaves too.
To prepare the curry take of fresh or frozen fish of any type from sole to salmon (3-4 fillets), sliced fresh mushrooms (a handful), de-seeded and diced red bell pepper (1), grated tomato (1 medium sized), fresh basil (a handful), fresh coriander (handful), fresh lime or lemon wedges to garnish. As an option take kaffir lime leaves (2-3).
Stir fish, mushrooms, and red pepper well, cook the contents on medium to high heat for 8-10 minutes or till simmering. Now add the tomatoes, stir gently and again continue covered simmering for 2 to 3 minutes.
Take a taste test for salt and sweetness.To make it salty adding more fish sauce instead of salt as per needs. Add sugar if it is too much sour. Add fresh lime or lemon juice (1-2 tbsp) juice If it is too salty or too sweet.
Put fish, curry sauce and vegetables in a serving bowl and sprinkle the coriander and fresh basil. Serve hot with Thai jasmine rice, after garnishing with lime or lemon wedges.
Fried Shrimp, Basil and Garlic
The four serves of fried shrimp, basil and garlic can be prepared just in 5 minutes. It is fiery and of garlic flavored seafood.
Pat dry the rinsed peeled deveined and tails removed shrimp (about 1.5 lb), heat over high heat in a large skillet, pour peanut or other neutrally flavored oil (2 tbsp), and immediately add minced garlic(1 tbsp), minced peeled ginger (1 tbsp), and red pepper flakes (1 tbsp).
Stir once or twice while cooking till the garlic becomes brown. Then add shellfish and cook till it becomes opaque. Add kosher salt and freshly prepared black pepper according to taste. Then add chopped fresh basil (1/3 cup), or cilantro, the cooking liquid or dry white wine or water as per choice and stir. Taste it, adjust the seasonings and garnish with more fresh basil leaves, chives, cilantro, and scallions. Serve it immediately with hot cooked rice or brown rice.
A combination of any of fish, or shrimp, or chicken or vegetable stocks can also be used.
Pasta, Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil
It is a delicious and quick recipe and served warm with a wonderful combination of flavors. Prepare all the ingredients, except the pasta ahead of time, and soak them together. Just stand the prepared bowl of ingredients in hot water, so that the mozzarella softens and the tomato juices start to come off.
Chop small cube shapes of about 2.5 cm, the mozzarella balls (two), tomatoes (10-15 small or same amount as the mozzarella), and put the contents in a bowl.
Now tear up the basil (15-20 leaves) and sprinkle it over the mozzarella and tomatoes, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (3 tbsp).
Then add a really good amount of salt and just a little black pepper. The salt will extract the moisture out from other ingredients and create a sauce. Now boil the egg pasta (250g), drain when cooked and pour hot on other ingredients. Then stir up to coat well, and serve.
Uses of Basil
The chopping of basil is not an efficient way to release flavors from the cellular structure. In order to get maximum flavor from basil, just place it in a Ziploc bag and pound it with a wooden hammer, till the leaves become wet. Then chop the pounded leaves.
In Indonesia, the lemon basil is used in cooking and is often eaten raw with raw vegetables, long beans, cucumber, cabbage etc. It is also taken with fried fish or duck, as an additional accompaniment.
© 2013 Sanjay Sharma