"Holy" Basil
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Will Cyphers
Posted on: September 3, 1998

What is "holy" basil, and how is it used in cooking?

"Holy" basil is used to refer to two entirely different plants. In the United States, it is used to refer to a plant which is more properly called "spice" basil. This plant is sometimes grown in India for its religious significance, but it is relatively unimportant.

The true sacred basil, Ocimum sanctum, which comes in green and purple forms, is the true "holy" basil. It is regarded to be the second most sacred plant in India (after the lotus) and is grown in most Hindu homes and outside most temples.

Both spice and sacred basils are listed In the Richters herb catalogue.

According to Deni Bown, author of "Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses" (available from Richters), sacred basil is not used in cooking, but the fresh leaves are added to salads and cold dishes.

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