Known in Thai as ‘Bai Yeera’ tree basil is another member of the Ocimum genus or simply said, it is another basil. As an ingredient it is not as nearly as common as some of the other basils such as Thai basil โหระพา or Holy basil กะเพรา, yet its distinct aroma unlike any other herb in the Thai pantry sparks a use in some unique dishes. Tree basil is native to Africa, Madagascar, South Asia and has been naturalized in Polynesia, Hawaii and various central and south America countries.

Other names

  • Ocimum gratissimum (Scientific)
  • African basil
  • Clove basil
  • Wild basil

Culinary use

Tree basil leaves and flowers are used to impart the plant’s distinct aroma dominated by clove, oregano and rosemary like scents. This uncommon combination somewhat reminiscent of Mediterranean spices, shifts aromas away from Thai mainstream profiles. Nevertheless this bouquet is acceptable by Thais and offers an off the beaten experience.

The leaves are added late in the cooking process to curry and stir-fry dishes, such as ‘Gaeng Khua’ often with catfish, water based curry of pork and tree basil leaves and jungle curry aka ‘Gaeng Pa’. It is also commonly used in various stir-fry dishes.

Additional resources

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