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It is the leaves of the basil plant that are used in cooking, and these leaves can range from green to reddish to purple in color, depending on the variety. There are more than 60 different varieties of basil, each with its own distinct flavor. These flavors include hints of lemon, thyme, jasmine, clove, cinnamon, and anise.


Fresh cut basil should be wrapped in damp kitchen paper, placed in a perforated bag and stored in the fridge – it will last a day or two. Potted basil should be kept in a sunny but sheltered place (a windowsill is ideal) and watered regularly (but not too much, as that will dilute the flavour). As you pick leaves from it, more will grow, and the plant should last several months.


Pick fresh basil leaves from their stalks and scatter whole, or roughly torn, over dishes.

For best flavor, the leaves should be picked before the plant begins to flower.

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