Cool Off This Summer With Sabja Seeds
By Sheela Rani Chunkath
With heat waves raging in many parts of the country, people are looking at various ways to keep cool. With cool clothes and cold drinks becoming popular, I thought a few recipes would be useful. I remember a time when road-side joints would sell lime juice with white mucilaginous seeds with black centres floating around. In the North these seeds are usually found with faluda.As I am writing this article, I find my husband making up a concoction of pomegranate, soaked sabja seeds and powdered cinnamon. Guests who dropped in seem to enjoy the concoction.
I like mine with a lime nannari sherbet. Of course, if you are a diabetic or are avoiding sugar, you would be better off sticking to the pomegranate concoction. You can add sabja seeds to a full glass of sweet or salt lassi to cool off your system.
Sabja seeds have to be soaked for about an hour in water before they swell up and can be used. You can use about half teaspoon of seeds to a cup of water. Drain the water and use the seeds in any drink etc. The scientific name for sabja seeds is Ocimum basilicum. They are tiny black seeds and resemble the tulsi seeds you will find in your ordinary tulsi or basil plant. Since both the plants are closely related it is not surprising the seeds look alike.
I tried sprinkling a few sabja seeds to see if they would sprout. They don’t seem to. I guess I have to source the ‘actual’ seeds from elsewhere. Sabja seeds when soaked in water become mucilaginous. Eating soaked sabja seeds helps prevent constipation. If you have irregular bowel movements, eating soaked sabja seeds at night helps. As proper evacuation of bowels is key to good health, sabja seeds can help regulate your digestion.
Sabja seeds are said to help in respiratory problems, cure colds, and help improve your complexion. With such an impressive list of benefits, it seems a shame not to include it in your diet. And this is one seed that is easy to make part of your diet. I remember I tried to incorporate flax seed into my everyday diet, but found it quite tedious to chew the seeds or sprinkle it over salads etc. Sabja seeds on the contrary has a neutral taste but adds an interesting crunch to any concoction you prepare.
Sabja seeds can be had by diabetics and non-diabetics alike. Diabetics can include it in any way in non-sweet foodstuffs, from porridge to fruits. In fact, a young friend of mine gave an interesting appearance to the salad as he said it looked liked caviar. It is not really alike but it makes for an interesting addition to your food preparations. Sabja seeds are said to look like chia seeds which was popular in Mexico and was cultivated by the Aztecs. The Aztecs knew their seeds and grains, as another important seed that was introduced by them to the world is quinoa.
Chia seeds are said to have plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and so is a vegetarian’s delight. Sabja seeds do not have as much omega 3 as chia seeds but is as fibre rich as chia seeds. Sabja and chia seeds both have mucopolysaccharides and hence are useful in lowering blood sugar and cooling the system. So go ahead and include some sabja seeds in your diet, now that summer is here.
The writer was earlier Health Secretary, Tamil Nadu, and is currently Additional Chief Secretary, and Chairman and MD, Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation.
She can be reached at Sheelarani.email@example.com.