Last Updated : Oct 25,2017
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Also Known as
Indian basil, Holy basil
Tulsi, also known as the Indian basil or the holy basil, is often referred to in India as the Queen of Herbs.
Considered a holy herb, it is grown in almost every Hindu household. Apart from being considered holy, tulsi is also revered as a great healer. Its leaves and roots are used in various medical decoctions, believed to soothe and heal the mind and body.
This aromatic plant, different from the pesto variety of basil, is native to India. It is an erect plant with branched sub-shrubs. The leaves are green coloured with a sharp aroma and flavour. Tulsi leaves are oval-shaped with a slightly sharp tip, and the edges are slightly toothed. Two main varieties of tulsi are grown in India – one with purple flowers and the other with greenish-brown coloured flowers.
Strip the leaves from the stems. Clean, wash and pat these dry using a kitchen towel. Gather the leaves and, using a chef's knife, chop coarsely or finely as desired by the recipe.
How to Select
• The leaves should look vibrant and green coloured, without any dark spots and patches.
• Avoid selecting leaves with holes, as it’s a sign of insect damage.
• These days, dried tulsi powder is also available in the market and can be conveniently used in a variety of recipes.
• Tulsi leaves are often used for their various medicinal properties.
• They can be added to a variety of juices and syrups.
• You can add zest to tea and herbal drinks by adding a few sprigs of tulsi.
• Enjoy a warm cup of invigorating tulsi tea by infusing chopped tulsi leaves in boiling water for eight minutes.
• It can be included in salads and desserts too.
How to Store
• Fresh tulsi leaves can be stored in the refrigerator for few days. Before refrigeration, clean and wrap them tightly in a plastic film or store in an air-tight container.
• It is best to use fresh leaves within a day or two after they have been plucked as they tend to wither and lose their aroma and flavour soon.
• Tulsi has very potent germicidal, fungicidal, anti-bacterial and antibiotic properties that are great for resolving fevers.
• Tulsi leaves are packed with antioxidants and essential oils that produce eugenol, methyl eugenol and caryophyllene. Collectively these substances help the pancreatic beta cells to function properly. This in turn helps increase sensitivity to insulin, lowering one’s blood sugar and treating diabetes effectively.
• An added advantage is that the antioxidants present in the leaves help beat the ill effects of oxidative stress.
• Chewing a few leaves of tulsi on an empty stomach everyday can both prevent and protect against heart ailments.
• According to a study conducted by the Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, India, tulsi helps to maintain the stress hormone, cortisol, within normal limits.
• Being a great diuretic and detoxifier, tulsi leaves are good for the kidneys. Tulsi helps reduce uric acid levels in the blood, and also helps cleanse the kidneys. The presence of acetic acid and other components in its essential oils helps in breaking down kidney stones, while its analgesic effect helps dull down the pain of kidney stones.
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