"Basil originated in India and has been derived from the word Basilikon Phuton which means “royal” in Greek,” says Chef Gautam Mehrishi. Belonging to the mint family, this herb has four major varieties namely - sweet basil, holy basil (tulsi), Thai basil, and lemon basil. In India, people are majorly acquainted with the sweet and holy varieties of basil. The holy one, thanks to Ayurveda, and the other, ever since Italian food came into the culinary food scene of the country.
In a fun video (scroll up), chef Gautam Mehrishi explains the difference between the two varieties of basil and some helpful tips on how to use these herbs in your daily meals.
The broader, bigger leaved basil is exotic and comes all the way from Italy. When rubbed between your palms, the leaves give out a mix of aromas - mainly, jasmine and lemon seed. This makes them excellent for pizza and pasta sauces, gravies, and curries. Scroll up to understand how you can pair the sweet basil with Indian spices for an elevated culinary experience.
Tulsi leaves are slightly thicker than sweet basil and have a rough feel. They have tiny spikes all over them and have curly ends. These bright leaves have a sweeter taste and aroma - on the lines of jasmine. It is juicier than its counterpart and retains its shape when crushed. It is an essential ingredient for all the homemade kadhas and churans, because of its medicinal properties. A number of recipes such as fruit salads, puddings, pulaos and raitas and even some of the finest Indian mithais using cardamom, also incorporate tulsi for an added flavour.