The herb is grown primarily in northeastern Africa and southern Asia for its strong fragrant lemon scent, and is used in cooking. In Laos this basil is used a lot in curries, soups and stir fries. It is added at the end of cooking to protect that fresh, but fragile sweet lemon flavor and aroma. Thai and Indonesian cooks use it in similar ways.
Cooking with Lemon Basil:
Stir fry with lemon basil
– Try adding a big handful of the whole leaves to a favorite stir-fry just before you take it out of the pan. The basil sets off spicy dishes, pork, seafood, and most vegetables.
Lemon-Basil Infused Grilled Chicken
– Butterfly a chicken, rub it all over with crushed garlic, ginger and oil if you’d like. Then cover the bottom of a shallow dish with half of your big bunch of lemon basil. Spread the chicken over it and cover the bird with more basil, saving about 1 cup of leaves for the chicken glaze. Rub the chicken’s basil into the bird’s surface. Lightly cover and refrigerate overnight. To cook, slow roast on the grill or in the oven.
During the last 30 minutes glaze the chicken by brushing with a puree of the 1-cup basil leaves, 3 tablespoons sugar, a seeded and minced Thai chile, the juice of a lemon and 1/3 cup canola oil.