Thai Sweet Basil (Horapa)

Thai Sweet Basil or ‘Horapa’ is one of the common cultivar group of basil. It’s a common herb used widely in Southeast Asia region especially in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. It’s easy to grow them from the cuttings you purchased off the supermarket shelves. Just soak the cuttings in some clean water and change the water every 2 -3 days until you can see some rootings protruding from the stems. Then you plant it in quality soil in pots or garden. I planted in large pots with organic soil by itself because they root very fast and  agressively just like Lemongrass. Their roots will ‘choke’ other plants so, it’s advisable to let them have their own territory…

To have more leaves, cut the flowers off before they bloom or you can add the flowers to your Thai recipes or salad –  the colorful pinkish-white flowers add another dimension to your dishes! By the way, different species of basil has different color of flowers, smell/fragrance and leaf textures. For example, the Basilicum that is common in Europe has white flowers and broad green, soft leaves and lesser anise taste compared to Southeast Asian varieties.

Here’s one my pots of Thai Basil with it’s flowers and green-purple leaves…

Thai Sweet Basil
Closer look of the Thai sweet basil dark green and purplish leaves with it’s dark purple bloom… and below is some of the full bloomed light purple-white flowers waiting to be pollinated.
Thai Sweet Basil flowering
Overall, this plant can be used several ways of its leaves, flowers and even the tiny black seeds!
Those tiny seeds collected from the dried blooms can be made into Basil Seed Drinks (Nam Mangklak), just like Falooda or Sharbat/Sherbet. You can even add them into your Bubble Tea mixes or with honey. I like mine added to fresh coconut juice with a little bit of rose syrup.
Bottled Basil Drinks
This plant also has medicinal uses. I remembered I’d been fed with the soaked basil seeds and Malva Nuts (Buah Kembang Semangkok) with honey to decrease body temperature. Which really works for me in this case… 🙂
Besides its important usage in various cuisines and in essential oils, basil plays important role in cultural aspects since ancient civilisations… even today, it’s highly regard in religions and beliefs.
Basil Seed \'Frog Eggs\'
Another FUN part as for me is the basil seeds reminded me of frog’s eggs – the seeds became gelatinous when soaked in water with tiny black dots in the centre… wobbly, oogly, sticky… ok, no more details 😀 I love to play that on unsuspected friends.
One thing for sure, basil (any kind) is a welcome in my kitchen and its within reach means I can enjoy my favourite basil dishes anytime I want from simple sambals or salads to fried rice! Choices… choices… choices…
Oh, do have a read of Giovanni Boccaccio‘s Decamaron and John Keat’s narrative poem Isabella or The Pot of Basil.

2 Responses

  1. This is my favourite among the basil variety.

  2. Hi Cynthian,

    My favourite too. It’s a very versatile herb as well. No matter how you use it, it still has the taste and aroma that activates your sense. Definitely a keeper!

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