I am growing Basil for the past 10 years now. This post is on the Thai variety of basil. Thai basil or bai horapa, is a variety of basil commonly used in Thai, Vietnam, Cambodia cuisines. In common parlance we call it Thai basil. My first packet of seeds was the ‘Queen of Siam’ brand. The flavor was just exquisite and strong.
Now I use my own seeds. Compared to the common Mediterranean sweet basil, Thai basil has a more pronounced licorice or anise flavor. There is a distinct difference between Thai basil and common sweet basil and so chefs do not use them as substitute for each other in – Thai etc or Italian recipes. Thai basil tends to hold its flavor better when cooked than its Mediterranean cousin does.
My Thai and common basil in some seasons grow side by side. After 6 months we observed that the sweet basil flavor got mixed with the Thai Basil scent. And the Italian chefs started complaining. Now we grow them quite far apart with a different crop in between to avoid the cross-pollination.
The leaves of Thai basil are deep green, smaller than those of Western basil, and arranged on purple-hued stems. Some people find the flowers edible as well. The flowers of Thai basil form in a cluster, not on a spike, unlike those of common basil. The flowers make an attractive plate garnish or colorful addition to green salads.
We use this aromatic basil in our soups at home and find it changes the entire experience.
Try out this lovely herb and enjoy!