Dried basil is widely used in Italian and French cuisine. It is a popular spice for seasoning sauces, marinades, and soups. Given the tarragon it contains, basil should not be consumed in large quantities. The active ingredients in basil help with loss of appetite, gas, and bloating.
From Wikipedia: “Basil (Ocimum basilicum), also called great basil or Saint-Joseph's-wort, is a culinary herb of the family Lamiaceae (mints). It is also called the "king of herbs" and the "royal herb". The name "basil" comes from Greek βασιλικόν φυτόν (basilikón phutón), "royal/kingly plant".
Basil is possibly native to India, and has been cultivated there for more than 5,000 years. ... It is a tender plant, best known as a culinary herb prominently featured in Italian cuisine, and also plays a major role in Southeast Asian cuisines of Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Taiwan. Depending on the species and cultivar, the leaves may taste somewhat like anise, with a strong, pungent, often sweet smell.”
Varieties of basilicum:
“There are many varieties of Ocimum basilicum, as well as several related species or species hybrids also called basil. The type used in Italian food is typically called sweet basil (or Genovese basil), as opposed to Thai basil (O. basilicum var. thyrsiflora), lemon basil (O. citriodorum), and holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), which are used in Asia. While most common varieties of basil are treated as annuals, some are perennial in warm, tropical climates, including holy basil and a cultivar known as "African blue basil".”
“Basil is most commonly used fresh in cooked recipes. In general, it is added at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavor. The fresh herb can be kept for a short time in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or for a longer period in the freezer, after being blanched quickly in boiling water. The dried herb also loses most of its flavor, and what little flavor remains tastes very different, with a weak coumarin flavor, like hay.
Basil is one of the main ingredients in pesto—a green Italian oil-and-herb sauce.
The most commonly used Mediterranean basil cultivars are "Genovese", "Purple Ruffles", "Mammoth", "Cinnamon", "Lemon", "Globe", and "African Blue". The Chinese also use fresh or dried basils in soups and other foods. In Taiwan, people add fresh basil leaves to thick soups (Chinese: 羹湯; pinyin: gēngtāng). They also eat fried chicken with deep-fried basil leaves. Basil (most commonly Thai basil) is commonly steeped in cream or milk to create an interesting flavor in ice cream or chocolates (such as truffles). The leaves are not the only part of basil used in culinary applications, the flower buds have a more subtle flavor and they are edible.
Thai basil is also a condiment in the Vietnamese noodle soup, phở.”
Seeds: “When soaked in water, the seeds of several basil varieties become gelatinous, and are used in Asian drinks and desserts such as faluda, sharbat-e-rihan, or hột é.”
“The various basils have such different scents because the herb has a number of different essential oils that come together in different proportions for various breeds. The strong clove scent of sweet basil is derived from eugenol, the same chemical as actual cloves. The citrus scent of lemon basil and lime basil reflects their higher portion of citral, which causes this effect in several plants including lemon mint, and of limonene, which gives actual lemon peel its scent. African blue basil has a strong camphor smell because it contains camphor and camphene in higher proportions. Licorice basil contains anethole, the same chemical that makes anise smell like licorice, and in fact is sometimes called "anise basil.”
Research and folk medicine:
“Studies of the essential oil showed antifungal and insect-repelling properties, including potential toxicity to mosquitos.”
“In folk medicine practices, such as those of Ayurveda or traditional Chinese medicine, basil is thought to have therapeutic properties.”
“In Europe, basil is placed in the hands of the dead to ensure a safe journey. In India, they place it in the mouth of the dying to ensure they reach God. The ancient Egyptians and ancient Greeks believed it would open the gates of heaven for a person passing on.”