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  Age on Sunday   02 Jul 2017  The truth about tulsi

The truth about tulsi

Published : Jul 2, 2017, 6:15 am IST
Updated : Jul 2, 2017, 6:15 am IST

Cooking with basil imparts a wonderful flavour to both Italian and Indian cuisine. And it also is good for your health, says Fareeda Kanga.


When we hear the word basil we immediately associate it with Italian cuisine and it brings to mind recipes using pesto and pastas with flavourful sauces. Yet the same plant in Hindi, namely tulsi, has a totally different connotation as it has a sacred implication in India.

All about Basil
Basil or tulsi (Ocinum Sanctum) is a herb that grows freely in India. It forms an integral role in rituals in temples across the country where it is connected with Lord Vishnu.
The plant grows to around 75 centimetres and has tiny, fragrant leaves that have an unmistakable aroma. Tiny purple flowers can be found amidst these leaves. The leaves can range from hues of bright green to purple and if you bite into them, they have a minty and gingery taste.


Storage and selection
Basil needs to be grown in the sunlight should you be planting it at home. “If we do not use the basil immediately, we keep the leaves and stems intact in cold water and away from any intense heat as otherwise the heat will turn it black. Always store it in a clean container covered with cling wrap. They normally last for a couple of days in a refrigerator,” says chef Rohan D’Souza, Silver Beach Entertainment Hospitality Pvt. Ltd.
For longer durations of time the only way you can preserve the basil leaf is by freezing. “Freeze the basil as is, it will keep individual leaves or buds intact. Put leaves or buds in the freezer for about one to two hours. Once they are frozen, transfer into airtight containers. Do not overcrowd them; otherwise they will lose their shape. After defrosting for use, you can julienne the leaves or use them whole as garnish on pasta dishes or soups.”


From the medicine box
Celebrity dietician and nutritionist, Manisha Mehta has listed the following health benefits of basil: 
Basil contains a compound that helps delay the process of ageing. It’s an excellent anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant. It also helps in boosting our immune system.
Helps prevent diabetes and liver cancer.
Helps in relieving mucus in asthma, cold and cough. It helps fight cholesterol.
Powdered basil can prevent bad breath.

Pasta Dough

1. Home-made spaghetti with chef's special basil infused sauce

Pasta Dough

500 gm refined flour 
24 egg yolk
Salt to taste
10 ml extra virgin olive oil


Sift the refined flour using a drum sieve, add salt and mix it well.
Put the flour in a bowl. 
Separate egg yolks from egg whites and add it to the flour. 
Knead the dough slowly. 
Add olive oil halfway through to ensure everything mixes well. 
Knead the dough till all the flour is absorbed by the eggs and the dough is uniform. 
Rest the dough for a while and remember to keep it covered to prevent it from drying. 
Get the desired pasta shape (with pasta roller and cutter).

Tomato sauce

45 gm onions
15 gm butter
50 gm carrot 
15 gm celery
1 kg tomatoes
10 gm basil

Heat the butter in a pan and sauté the onions till they are translucent. Add chopped carrot, chopped celery and cook till they are soft.
Puree the tomatoes and add it to the vegetables and cook. Adjust the thickness by adding water. Stir occasionally and make a smooth sauce.
Season with basil leaves.



120 gm pasta
10 gm garlic
2 gm basil
Salt to taste
40 gm chopped tomatoes
80 ml tomato sauce
20 ml olive oil

Blanch the pasta in salted boiling water. Heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté the sliced garlic. Now, add blanched pasta, chopped tomatoes and shredded basil to it. Heat the tomato sauce and add at the base. Pour the sauce on the plate and toss pasta over it.

Pasta Dough

2. Chilli and fennel crusted snapper with olives, potatoes and orange sauce

720 gm red snapper
5 gm chilli flakes
20 gm fresh fennel
50 gm butter
40 gm bread crumbs
1 egg
60 gm tomato
120 ml orange juice
5 gm basil leaves
20 gm black olives
100 gm asparagus 
160 gm potatoes
5 gm parsley
Salt to taste
80 ml extra virgin olive oil


For the crust, mix softened butter, egg white, parsley, chopped fennel, chilli flakes, bread crumbs and salt. Mix well to form a uniform mixture and then flatten it thin between plastic sheets and freeze it before use.
Crisply fry half boiled potato dices in olive oil, season it with salt. Then add tomato dices, basil and olive dices, set this aside.
For the sauce, heat orange juice and reduce it by one-third. Now, add chopped basil, tomato dices and olive oil. Set this aside to be used later. 
Marinate the fish with salt, chopped basil and olive oil; sear the fish on medium high heat.
Cut the crust as per the shape and size of the fish and place over it. Then place the fish in a preheated oven at 1800C.
Then in a plate arrange the crisp fried potato mixture in the centre in a ring mould, place the cooked fish over it.
Pour the orange sauce on the side and serve. Place the blanched and seasoned asparagus over the fish.


Pasta Dough

3. Burrata cheese with chilled gazpacho, confit tomato, olive tuile, basil foam

500 gm burrata cheese 
200 gm tomato
50 gm cucumber 
50 gm red pepper
1 sprig thyme
1 orange 
1 clove garlic
For gazpacho 
300 gm tomato
50 gm red pepper
50 gm cucumber
5 gm basil
50 ml extra virgin olive oil
5 ml red wine vinegar 
Salt to taste 
For Olive tuile 
20 gm kalamata olive paste
20 gm flour 
20 gm butter
20 gm egg white
For basil foam
10 gm basil
5 gm soya lecithin

Blanch and peel tomato, cut into four and remove seeds to make petal. Marinate petals with olive oil, thyme, garlic, orange zest and salt.
Cook it at 1200c for 90 minutes. Peel and dice cucumber and red pepper, marinate with olive oil and salt.
For gazpacho
Cut the tomato, cucumber and tomato into small chunks.
Marinate with salt, olive oil, red wine vinegar and basil leaves  Leave in the freezer overnight and blend them smooth.
For basil foam
Clean and wash the basil. Blanch them in water for 45 seconds and blend to remove the basil extract.
Mix soya lecithin with the extract and blend to make it foamy.
For Olive tuile  
Mix all the ingredients to make a batter.
Spread them in silpat sheet and bake at 1800c for 10 minutes.


— Recipes courtesy: Chef Ashish Bhasin, executive chef, Trident Bandra Kurla, Mumbai.

Tags: pasta, tomato sauce, tulsi