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holy basil in khmer cuisine

Holy basil, known as “maengluck” in Khmer, is an aromatic herb that holds a prominent place in traditional Khmer cuisine. Its powerful fragrance and slightly peppery taste make it an essential ingredient to bring a unique flavor to Cambodian dishes.
In Khmer cuisine, holy basil is used fresh, liberally added to salads, curries, soups and stir-fries. Fresh holy basil leaves are picked and torn by hand, then incorporated into dishes at the end of cooking to preserve their delicate aroma.
One of the most iconic recipes showcasing holy basil is “Lap Khmer”, a spicy ground beef salad. Holy basil leaves add a fresh, herbal flavor that perfectly balances the spices and other ingredients in this savory dish.
Holy basil is also used to flavor broths and soups, such as “Samlor Korko”, a vegetable soup made with lemongrass and galangal. Holy basil leaves add a fragrant note and bring an extra dimension to these comfort foods.
In stir-fries and noodle dishes, holy basil is often combined with other aromatic herbs such as cilantro and mint, creating a blend of fresh and invigorating flavors. Its slightly crunchy texture also adds interest to these dishes.
In addition to its use in cooking, holy basil is also prized for its medicinal properties in Khmer culture. It is attributed with purifying and soothing properties, and it is often used in infusions for its benefits on digestion and the respiratory system.
In sum, holy basil occupies a prominent place in Khmer cuisine by bringing a unique flavor and elevating traditional dishes to a higher level. Its captivating fragrance and versatility make it an essential ingredient for those wishing to discover the delights of Cambodian cuisine.


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