Tulsi or Holy Basil is closely related to the Mediterranean basil so commonly used in European cuisines, but it is not the same as you can see form the pictures on this sit of both types of basil. Tulsi or Holy basil is native to the Asian continent and is a sacred plant for Hindus so is not generally eaten on the subcontinent, as the peoples on this continent tend to respect each others’ religions.
Tulsi is a short-lived perennial with smaller flowers than the Mediterranean basil, and has four ‘nutlets’ or seeds. Unlike the sweet basil seeds (tukh malanga), the seeds of Holy Basil do not produce mucilage. It used to be grown in large pots in the courtyards of Hindu forts and temples, and is still used to purify the body. This is entirely in keeping with the findings of modern medical researchers who have found that Tulsi has antibacterial properties and kills bacteria. It is effective against fungal diseases which attack rice crops. It is still grown in pots in Hindu homes and many women offer blessed water to their Holy basil or tulasi plant and walk around it praying. Hindus believe that offerings to their god and goddesses are not complete without tulasi leaves.
Krishna enjoys offerings of tulsi leaves as it is believed that the Holy Basil plant is the earthly embodiment of the nymph Tulasi who was so beloved by Krishna. It is believed by others that it is actually the earthly embodiment of the goddess Lakshmi, the wife of Vishnu. The Brahmins believe that it is sacred to both gods, and that it guides all who grow it to heaven. In Hindi the name tulsi or tulasi means ‘incomparable’. It is used in Hindu marriage and funeral ceremonies and is used extensively in traditional medicine.
STIR-FRIED CHICKEN WITH HOLY BASIL
1 tbsp oil for cooking
1 tsp sesame oil
4 green chillies, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
100 gr minced chicken (or beef or pork)
1 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
½ cup Holy basil leaves
1 egg per person, beaten
Heat the oil and fry the chillies and garlic until brown and pungent. Add the meat and fry till it is no longer red.
Add the sugar, soy sauce and fish sauce. Stir until the liquid has been totally absorbed then add a little water and the Holy basil leaves. Stir until the leaves have wilted.
In a separate frying pan fry the beaten eggs in a little oil.
Serve the stir-fry on a bed of rice and top with egg slices.