Basil seed exhibits much of the same medicinal properties as the flowering plant, which includes treatment for headaches, constipation and kidney detoxification. Most basil varieties, like sweet basil, lemon basil and purple basil produce seeds that are edible. Before the seeds are used in culinary applications, they are usually soaked until they expand into a conformed, gelatinous mixture. The seeds still retain their green color and are sometimes described as “frog’s eggs.” They are used most often in Middle Eastern applications, but have begun to be more commonplace in western cultures, as well.
Soak the Seeds. Most recipes that call for basil seeds instruct that the seeds be soaked before being used in the dish. Without being soaked, the seeds are almost inedible because of their hard texture. The seeds can be soaked in plain water or can be soaked in flavored water that has been sweetened with sugar, honey or stevia. Some chefs have even soaked the seeds in coffee, apple cider vinegar or tequila to add a unique flavor to the seeds. Soak the seeds in a shallow dish for at least 45 minutes.
Use the seeds to make Nam Manglak. Nam Manglak is a Thai basil seed beverage. When soaking the seeds for this recipe, make sure the water is hot and add equal parts of honey and sugar to the mixture. After the seeds have soaked for about 45 minutes, put the seeds into a refrigerator to chill for a couple of hours. Fill a glass halfway with crushed ice and fill the rest of the way with the chilled seeds. Top the mixture with a sweet topping, like grenadine or sweetened rosewater.
Use the seeds to make Falooda. Falooda is basically a basil ice cream sundae float from Pakistan. Soak the seeds for the full two hours when preparing Falooda. Boil rice noodles according to package directions and lay them aside to cool. Fill a glass halfway with the noodles, scoop ice cream on top and layer the basal seeds on top of the ice cream. Pour milk and sweetened rosewater over the mixture, creating the “float" effect. Falooda is sometimes called “window sherbet,” referring to the window vendors who serve it in Pakistan.
Chew on basil seeds, plain or after being soaked, for multiple healing effects on your system. Ayurveda practitioners prescribe the seeds to treat headaches, sore throats and constipation. The seeds can also be used topically on insect bites and small wounds.
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