African basil, also known as ‘scent leaf’ or by traditional names like ‘efinrin’ (among the Yorubas) and ‘ntong’ (by the calabars), is a versatile herb that can be used in a variety of ways. It is a popular ingredient in soups, stews, and sauces. African basil is also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including headaches, fevers, and stomachaches.
Health Benefits of African Basil
African basil is a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as manganese and vitamin K. Vitamin A is important for vision, while vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps boost the immune system. Manganese helps with protein digestion, and vitamin K promotes faster wound healing.
Nutritional Value of African Basil
A one-ounce (28-gram) serving of fresh African basil provides the following nutrients:
- Calories: 4
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbohydrates: 1 gram
- Protein: 0 grams
- Vitamin A: 10% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin C: 15% of the DV
- Manganese: 10% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 10% of the DV
Meals Made with African Basil
African basil is a popular ingredient in West African cuisine. It is often used in soups, stews, and sauces. Some popular Nigerian dishes that use African basil include:
- Egusi soup
- Ofe akwukwo (Vegetable soup)
- Ogbono soup
- Concoction or native riceon
Cooking With African Basil
African basil can be used fresh or dried. When using fresh basil, add it to the dish at the end of cooking to preserve its flavor. Dried basil can be added to dishes at the beginning of cooking or rehydrated in hot water before adding.
Here are some tips for cooking with African basil:
- Use a small amount of African basil at first, as it can have a strong flavor.
- Add African basil to dishes that have a complementary flavor profile, such as tomato-based dishes or curries.
- Experiment with different African basil recipes to find your favorites.
Are you familiar with this herb? How have you used it?