Basil seeds have special health benefits and enhance the flavour and texture of a dish, thus making it a win-win ingredient. An ingredient that has been used since centuries, is now known to become a superfood. Menino D’costa, brand chef, Caffe Ritazza, says, “Basil seeds are known as ‘super food’ as it helps your body to meet required fibre. Further, they also help you to lose weight, boost skin health, improves digestion, strengthen hair, regulate blood circulation.”
Since ancient times, sabja has been known for its health benefits. The major health benefit of sabja is that it acts as body coolant and helps in treating ailments like acidity and heartburn. Thus making it a special ingredient for summers. Ishijyot Surri, executive chef, Mulk Restaurant, shares, “It is also known to relieve an individual from constipation and bloating. Other major benefit is it helps in treating skin infections when crushed into coconut oil and applied.”
Health benefits of basil seeds
Sabja seeds also called as tukhmaria in local language are small but mighty powerful seeds in terms of health benefits. Luke Coutinho, holistic lifestyle coach, integrative medicine points out:
Fibre rich: 4 grams, which is a little less than a spoon of the sabja seeds has more fibre than a whole bulb of lettuce.
Combats acidity and cools body: It has a cooling effect and helps in overcoming acidity.
Diabetes: Coutinho add, “It plays a massive role in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Because it’s rich in fibre, when you have it minutes before your meals, it can prevent any spike in your blood sugar levels.”
Lower estrogen levels: They are capable of lowering estrogen levels in the body and hence work well in case of estrogen dominant cancers.
Skin disorders: There is a simple recipe that includes these seeds and works wonders for skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Crush basil seeds in a pestle until it becomes a fine powder and slowly cook it with 2 tbsp coconut oil for a minute. Once it cools, apply it on the affected area. Repeat this daily for 15-20 days.
One can use sabja seeds in the form of infused water. This is one of the easiest ways to use sabja seeds. Just add about a tsp in 1L water bottle/jar and keep it for an hour so the seeds swell up completely.
Coutinho adds, “Apart from that, one can top it over cut fruits, add it to vegetable juices and smoothies. It can also be added to any dessert or chutney for a gooey consistency.”
D’costa adds that you can use the seeds to make delicious smoothies, salads with a combination of one’s favourite fresh fruits and vegetables like avocado, mango, berries and refreshing summer coolers with fresh juices, mint leaves and so on.
They are the most nutritious when soaked in water and consumed. They begin to swell at the touch of water, with a translucent white film coating each black seed, and they become twice their size. You can soak about two teaspoons of sabja seeds in one cup of warm water for about 15 minutes. Warm water causes the seeds to fully swell up releasing antioxidants and beneficial digestive enzymes.
Siddhesh Raut, executive chef, M.I.T.R.O.N , says, “We can do multiple use of basil seeds. These fragrant seeds do not really have a distinct taste and can be added to a variety of dishes for a nutrition boost. They are great as a garnish for drinks and desserts. Blended in a lemonade or sprinkled over kulfi, they impart their own fresh and grassy touch. You can munch on these seeds as a low-calorie snacking alternative. Add it to pastas r soups for a crunchy feel.”
Savoury and sweet dishes
Sabja seeds can be added to both, sweet as well as savoury dishes. Since it’s inherently tasteless, it blends well with any other taste. It can be added to salads, chutneys, beverages like jaljeera, lemon water and sometimes even crackers. In India, a dessert called falooda has these seeds mixed with ice cream. These seeds are full of fibre which means it has the ability to keep you full for a longer period of time plus stabilise the sugar spikes in bloodstream. This seed is also a good immunity booster. You can warm a cup of water and add seeds to it followed by adding some ginger juice, raw honey and lemon juice. It works well for cough and cold.
Sure adds, that it can be consumed in 2 ways – soaked form and roasted form. When soaked, the sabja can be added to various desserts and drinks. Roasted sabja can be added to various savoury dishes like the trail mixes.
1) Lemon and basil seed cake
Ingredients: 350gm refined flour, 1tsp baking soda, 2 tsp baking powder, 120gm butter, 100g m sugar, 250gm yoghurt, 3tbsp lemon juice, 1tsp lemon zest, 1tbsp basil seeds
Method: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C for at least 10 minutes. Lightly butter 9 inch round cake pan and keep it aside. Take all purpose flour, baking soda and baking powder in a bowl. Mix well till incorporated. Soften butter in another bowl.Beat it till it is light and smooth. you can use stand mixer or hand mixer or by hand with wire whisk.Add granulated sugar. Beat it till light and fluffy.
Add yogurt. And beat it till mix. Add lemon juice and lemon zest and soaked basil seeds. Mix it well. Add half of the flour mixture. And beat it till incorporated.Then add remaining flour mixture. Again beat it well. Do not over mix it. Pour batter in prepared cake pan. Lightly tap on counter top to remove any air bubbles. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or a toothpick inserted in middle of cake will come out clean. And cake will leave the sides of cake pan.
Let it cool for 5 minutes in a pan.Then loosen the sides with butter knife and remove it on cooling rack. Let it cool completely.
By Kedar Aras, junior sous chef, Tiara, Meluha, The Fern
2)Mango Basil seeds Dessert Cups
Ingredients: 1 cup mango puree, 1 cup condensed milk, 1/8th tsp cardamom powder, 3 tsp soaked basil seeds + 2 tsp extra for garnishing, a few slices of mangoes for garnishing and few pomegranate seeds for garnishing
Method: Combine the mango puree, condensed milk, cardamom powder and basil seeds in a mixing bowl.Whip it using a balloon whisk and pour into serving glasses. Chill for 1 hour. While serving garnish with mango slices, remaining basil seeds and pomegranate seeds.
By Sheriyar Dotivala, chef, The Resort Mumbai
3) Vita kheer
Ingredients: 150gm cauliflower florets, 1 tbsp roasted semolina, 500 ml milk, 1 tbsp sabja seeds (soaked overnight), 1/4 cup honey, 1/2 tsp cardamom powder, 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
Method: Cook the cauliflower florets in boiling water till its fork tender. Drain the excess water from the florets and mash it finely. Boil the milk and slowly add the cauliflower mash to it. Mix it to make a homogeneous mixture. Add the roasted semolina and cook it till it get the consistency of the kheer or payasam. Take it off the heat once the desired consistency is achieved. Add honey, cardamom powder and nutmeg powder. Leave it to cool down. After cooling add soaked sabja seeds to it.Serve it cool or chilled.
By Ishijyot Surri, executive chef, Mulk Restaurant.
4)Avocado and Blueberry smoothie with basil seeds
Ingredients: ½ ripe avocado, 1 cups frozen blueberry, ¼ tsp cinnamon powder, ½ cup yogurt, 1 tbsp basil seeds, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp slice pista for garnish
Method: Firstly soak the basil seeds in water over night, get all your ingredients in a blender and blend it well. For a thicker smoothie, add ice and for thinner smoothie add bit milk. In a glass add soaked basil seeds pour over the smoothie mix and garnishes with slice Pista and Blueberry. Consume it immediately for freshness.
By Menino D’costa, brand chef, Caffe Ritazza