CHENNAI: We all have relished a tall glass of falooda on a hot and sweaty summer noon. A sweet concoction of ice-creams, syrups, fruits and vermicelli — it is a meal in itself. Along with these ingredients, there is one more squishy substance that goes into the sinful dessert — basil (or sabja) seeds.
Basil seeds typically come from sweet basil, also known as Ocimum basilicum. Popularly used in faloodas, sabja seeds have otherwise been used in drinks and food in India and Southeast Asia, for centuries.
According to Reshma Aleem, senior dietician at Rela Institute and Medical Centre, these seeds are a good source of omega- 3 fats and fibre. “A teaspoon of sabja seeds gives you 25 Kcals of energy per gram,” she says, sharing other benefits.
A good source of minerals
Sabja seeds carry a healthy dose of calcium, magnesium and iron, which are essential for bone health, muscle function and red blood cell production. They are also high in fibre, particularly soluble fibre,
which support gut health. The pectin in these seeds displays probiotic benefits and increases beneficial gut bacteria.
Helps remain calm
The pectin helps in keeping you feel satiated, thus reducing the frequency of hunger pangs. It also offers a cooling effect to the stomach. Pectin is also known to lower blood cholesterol by inhibiting cholesterol
absorption in the gut.
The fibrous nature of these seeds aid in providing treatment to patients with type 2 diabetes. The soluble fibres aid in controlling blood sugar.
Rich in plant compounds
Basil seeds are rich in plant compounds, including flavonoids and other polyphenols. Flavonoids are antioxidants that protect the cells from damage due to free radicals. These plant compounds also
have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Soak the seeds in a large quantity of water. Using too little water may cause the seeds to clump. When they swell, soak them again for about 15 minutes. As the seeds swell, they approximately triple in size.
The gel-like outer portion turns gray and the centre of the soaked basil seed remains black.
RECIPE: Watermelon cooler
- Diced watermelon: 1.5 cup
- Lemon juice: 2 tsp
- Soaked sabja seeds: 1 tsp
- Rock salt and pepper: to taste
Blend the watermelon piecesinto juice. Add a dash of lemon juice, rock salt and pepper. Mix in the soaked sabja seeds. Garnish with mint leaves.