Lemon basil ‘Maenglak’ in Thai is a hybrid herb, a cross between the sweet and the American basil. As the name suggests the lemon basil has a wonderful lemony scent reminiscent of lemon balm. It is widely used in Thai cuisine to perfume and lighten up dishes.
Leaves are smaller than the leaves of Thai basil and stems are thinner and softer.
Lemon basil is used in salads, soups and curries. Some dishes are just not the same without it, a couple that come to mind are ‘Gaeng Liang’ a vegetable soup and ‘Khanom Jeen Nam Ngiaw’ a famous northern rice noodle curry.
The seeds of lemon basil are also used. They form translucent gelatinous little spheres when soaked in water then added to desserts and drinks and are fun to chew on.