Herb Highlight // Thai Basil


Botanical name: Ocimum Basilica

Other names: Anise basil, Liquorice basil

Native to: Southeast Asia

It's too early to be sowing seeds outdoors but Thai Basil is something that you can sow indoors every month of the year. So it's great for those of us with an itch to get sowing again. It's also a great herb for people without gardens because it will actually be much happier basking in the sun of a cosy sheltered windowsill than being outdoors against the perils of the English climate. Its fragrant leaves can also offer a good defence against flies and other indoor insect pests. You'll find seeds online if not at your local garden shop.

How to use

It is delicious raw in salads or can be added to stews, soups, curries and stir-fries. You might have added it to your phở (noodle soup) if you've been to a Vietnamese restaurant. If you can't grow it have a look for it in your local Asian supermarket. It slight aniseed scent makes a refreshing sweet tea (fresh or dried) and can be infused in sugar to make a syrup for drinks.

Thai Basil Pesto

  • 50g peanuts (lightly roasted)
  • Large bunch thai basil
  • 50g parmesan
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 1/2 lime (optional)

Blend the ingredients in a food processor until smooth and serve with a squeeze of lime for a citrus twist. Vegans can substitute the parmesan for a vegan cheese or leave it out, it still tastes great!