Sacred to the Hindus, people often ask me the reason why tulsi or the holy basil is considered holy. The story goes that the plant was once the devoted wife of a celestial being. Lord Krishna tricked her into committing a sin so she cursed him into becoming a stone. Impressed with her devotion and sense of righteousness, the Lord blessed her saying that she would be the subject of worship from then on.
Although it grows wild just about all over India, this holy plant can be found in many homes and temple gardens. Ayurvedically speaking, it is the medicinal properties of tulsi that make it sacred. Ancient Indian forest-dwellers would apply a poultice made from the paste of the leaf to destroy poison from snake and scorpion bites. While this is less of a problem for urban folks today, its anti-fungal and antiviral properties make it the perfect medicine for those annoying days when you are stuck at home with the flu, or when you are nursing the common cold. The tonic properties of tulsi are believed to enhance longevity and help treat a host of illnesses from asthma and stress.
I have put together a recipe for tulsi and mint sauce. Absolutely delectable, it can be eaten with rice, pasta, vegetables…you name it. Feel free to use the dried form, but if you have access to the fresh herb, I would highly recommend it. The liquorish-sweetness of fresh tulsi leaves will linger on your taste buds just that little bit longer.