Basil, often referred to as the king of herbs, is an essential culinary herb prominently featured in Italian cuisine, and also plays a major role in Southeast Asian cuisines. Basil leaves have a strong, pungent often sweet smell. In general, it is added at the last moment of cooking. In Italian cooking, basil is one of the main ingredients in pesto and is also very often used with salads. In south Asian cuisine, basil is often used in soups and chicken stir-fries.