New Ingredient: Basil Seeds

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These are NOT chia seeds!

Yeah, they look a lot like them, don’t they? However, these are basil seeds. Commonly an ingredient in cold Asian drinks, they swell up in liquid and have a jelly-like, chewy texture. This is characteristic of the seeds of several varieties of basil species (sweet basil, thai basil, italian basil…). The seeds are about the size of a sesame seed.

While basil seeds do not have the same healthy fat benefits as the recently-popularized chia seed, they are still just as fun to play with in drinks! And bonus: they’re much cheaper! A bag of basil seeds typically costs me about $2, while I’ve seen chia seeds at health stores for about $8.

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But don’t be weirded out! They are amazing little seeds to add to a sweet drink. Often they are components in faluda,  and I like to add them to Sam Bo Luong (or Ching Bo Leung).

Faluda/Falooda

Faluda/Falooda

Sam Bo Luong/Ching bo Leung

Sam Bo Luong/Ching bo Leung

Unfamiliar with these names? All of them are refreshing, sweet drinks from South Asia that are eaten with a spoon. They all contain many types of jellies of differing textures, so it’s a lot of fun to eat! Faluda is creamy, while Sam Bo Luong is tea-like.

IMG_0071How do you use basil seeds? Simply soak them in a liquid for 1-2 hours, and they will expand and become gelatinous. 1 tablespoon is probably enough to add to a drink.

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They have pretty much no flavor; it’s all about the texture! I bet they’d also be cool to add to raspberry-flavored jello 🙂

If you’re feeling adventurous, you have to try these! They are fun ingredients that are often sold in bags (the one I bought was in a shaker though, how convenient) at most Southeast Asian groceries. They are awesome!

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8 thoughts on “New Ingredient: Basil Seeds

  1. Oh, now I’m craving che! 😀

  2. Wow cool! Ching bo leung…my parents used to drink that all the time…is it hard to make? Looks so refreshing in your picture!

    • Ching bo leung isn’t hard to make, it’s just a lot of boiling ingredients from what I understand. The issue is acquiring all those ingredients, hahaha! I normally order them at Vietnamese or Chinese dessert places because it’s so hard to find and store all the bags of dried fruits/seeds for it.

  3. I’ve heard about these basil seeds. I wouldn’t mind trying the Faluda. It looks delicious. Do you have the recipe?

    • I’ve only made it once before, because there are a lot of ingredient that I typically do not have on hand. Here’s the recipe I used:
      For 4 servings
      4 cups of milk (skim to full)
      4 ounces of falooda sev (noodles)
      5 teaspoons rose water
      2 teaspoons basil seeds
      Soak the falooda sev according to package; soak the basil seeds in water for at least 1 hour. Put soaked noodles at the bottom of each glass, pour rose syrup over them, add the basil seeds, then pour milk into 4 glasses evenly. Top with crushed ice or ice cream. Enjoy!

      • Interesting recipe. I will have to find the Faluda. Any suggestions? I know where I can get rose water. I might go to Whole Foods for the basil seeds or maybe Wegman’s. Once I find the Falooda and basil seeds, I will let you know. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. I appreciate it. Have a great day! 🙂

  4. If you live near any Southeast Asian grocery stores (Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino) I’m sure you’ll be able to find them! I’ve never seen them at Whole foods, though, and we don’t have Wegman’s where I live 😦 Best of luck!

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