Welcome to the fruity world with "falooda food" as medicine
Many of us are familiar with the tiny basil seeds that are soaked in water to make sweet beverages like falooda. The seeds floating in a glass of water surrounded in a grey jelly resemble frog's eggs and had no appeal to me until I began to create these recipes for you. Now I'm hooked on them!I made smoothies and jellies, fruit sorbet, ice cream and velvety toppings, dips and salad dressings. My favourite is a very special drink made of fermented milk (maas). I now prefer it to a cup of coffee because it is so reviving.
I hope you enjoy this collection of recipes and all the photographs I took to give you a better idea of what goes on behind the scenes. After each session we consumed the exhibits and lost our appetite for the rest of the day! That may explain why my jeans are so loose at the waist. People who fast during Ramadan will put these recipes to good use. There are also some savoury dishes and a steamed pudding for you in my other Info Barrel article on basil seeds.
Disclaimer on the medicinal effects of basil (falooda / sobja) seeds
This information is for your interest and should not be used without consent from a practitioner if you are taking any form of medication. The gel around basil seeds may slow down the uptake of a drug if ingested simultaneously.
Please consult your health practitioner before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime. Often the herbs and dietary changes clash with drugs that are taken to meet the same result. This produces an intensified effect, meaning that a qualified doctor may need to reduce medications for cholesterol, blood sugar, etc. providing that your condition is well monitored.
Feel good on falooda for fasting, losing weight and controlling blood sugar
Basil seed (falooda or sabja) is soaked in water to make a jelly that is added to fruity drinks and ice creams in countries like India and Thailand. Muslims enjoy a drink made of milk, sugar syrup and rosewater with falooda seeds, especially during Ramadan. We can transform these drinks into a really healthy treat by shutting out the sugar. Sugar and even some of the artificial sweeteners jumble up insulin responses and can cause sudden drops and raises in blood sugar.
Even though sweet treats after a day’s fasting instantaneously elevate blood sugar, a sudden load of sugar can lead to problems in the bloodstream and ultimately this affects the brain. The high fibre content of the soaked basil seeds helps to slow down the rush of sugar and release it in sustainable amounts over a longer time. It is better to avoid as much free-form sugar as you can and increase the fibre, protein and essential fatty acid content of a sweet dish or drink and these remarkable seeds do just that! They are also rich in tryptophan to help us maintain neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin to make us feel good.
A spoon full of sugar but with fibre, protein, minerals and essential fatty acids!
Most of us have a sweet tooth that needs to be curbed. There is nothing wrong with sweetness on the tongue but having too much sugar (what we call free-form sugar) throughout the day can lead to insulin resistance. Fruits like bananas and persimmons are very sweet yet full of fibre, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that slow down the insulin response. These ingredients can be used to make stand-alone ice cream substitutes for vegans and lactose intolerant people.
We can add sharper flavours from strawberries, Kiwi fruit and granadilla for contrast. Their pips complement the zing of the basil seeds. Sweeten them with a little stevia if the flavour is too acidic. Combinations of basil seeds with sugar-free jelly (or gelatine, agar or China grass) and fruit make sumptuous skinny desserts. Add a blob of fruit ice or banana “cream” and you have a clear winner. The recipes for the flat bread and hearty steamed pudding with Kiwi fruit are available in the previous article I wrote on basil seeds.
Basil seeds soak up 10 x more water and produce a delicious fruity jelly
Make a lot of water and basil seed “jelly” and keep it handy
Basil seeds are sold at spice counters and a small sachet costs very little but goes a long way. Add 15 ml of basil (falooda or sabja) seeds to every cup (250 ml) of water to make the gel or jelly. The seeds swell up within half an hour, but the longer you keep the mixture the better the result.
Delicious food as medicine for a troubled digestive system
The jelly is rich in natural fibre and the basil seeds are known to control a number of microbial infections. This is the reason that soaked basil seeds do not get contaminated, even after many days when they are soaked in water and kept at room temperature. This may be one of the reasons people are advised by a number of top naturopaths to drink this mixture a few times a day if they suffer from intestinal disorders like Candidiasis and irritable bowel syndrome. Some internet references recommend an intake of up to 30 ml of seeds soaked in 500 ml water, taken in divided doses. Now we can use the following recipes for tasty ways to take and really enjoy that medicine.
Here are some examples of cutting out the starches and a lot of extra sugar. have your salad with creamed banana and enjoy some fruit ices and jelly. The recipes are discussed below.
Make your jelly bases out of gelatine or seaweed extract
Mix up a packet of jelly powder according to the instructions. You may prefer to use sugar-free jelly powder or vegan jelly powder from the health shop. Plain gelatine works well and can be sweetened with stevia or Capitol. Fruit juice can be added instead of cold water. Vegans can use agar or China grass that produces a jelly from seaweed extracts. It is tricky to work with and needs all the liquid to be boiling hot. Acidity can affect the way it sets. By the way, never use fresh pineapple in a jelly because it has a digestive enzyme that prevents it from setting. Now you know – pineapple is good for digestion!
Plain jelly can be flavoured with herb tea. A good combination is green tea and mint. It has a delicate flavour and is very refreshing with the soaked basil seeds. Once you have made the jelly of your choice, pour it into a few small plastic containers to use as moulds. Now add in a spoon or two of soaked basil seeds and let them mix into the jelly on top. Keep some extra jelly to add to the recipes for smoothies and fruit jellies we will make later on. When the little jellies have set really well they can be released from the moulds. Add other fruit mixtures and slices of fruit to make a pretty dish.
Green tea and basil seed jelly or hibiscus and strawberries
This clear jelly has a subtle flavour when you use unflavoured jelly powder and make it up with green tea and mint leaves. Sweeten it with stevia to cut the calories. Stevia complements fruit flavours very well and does not leave a nasty aftertaste. Make a variant using hibiscus tea and adding strawberries, orange juice or granadilla seeds for an extra load of vitamin C.
Satisfying smoothies with probiotics
Everybody knows how to make a smoothie but this recipe helps to control blood sugar, Candidiasis and gut inflammation. That sounds boring but it helps you get through a long morning without tucking into chocolates, coffee and cake! Food as medicine, all the way.
Fruit and molasses with basil seeds, maas (fermented milk) and probiotics
You can make a litre at a time or more. Proportions are up to you but basically you need:
- 1 cup of water or ice cubes
- 1 cup of maas (fermented milk)
- 50 – 100 ml soaked basil seeds and water. (They supply prebiotics; the growth medium for probiotics.)
- 30 ml sweet molasses. (Molasses is also a growth medium for probiotics.)
- 5 ml liquid probiotics (find a brand with at least 10 – 15 strains.) You can also empty out a few probiotic capsules so they can multiply in this medium.
- Optional: a few strawberries or half a chopped banana or chopped Kiwi fruit or pears and other soft fruit for extra flavour and a thicker texture.
Blend the ingredients together in an electric blender. Omit the fruit and ice cubes if you want to shake it up directly in a bottle and get on your way. The sweet molasses provides a unique fruity flavour of its own, even without any fruit. The probiotics begin to multiply in the basil seed gel, molasses and maas (fermented milk) and will keep on doing so. This “smoothie” is a great companion at the office and can be sipped throughout the day. It is surprisingly refreshing and satisfying for low blood sugar blues. By the way, menopausal women mostly complain of hot flushes and brain fog when they have low blood sugar.
Smoothie variants you can make to suit your taste buds:
- Add any type of jelly to the mixture to make a thicker smoothie. If you keep some of it in a fancy bowl in the refrigerator it will set into a soft creamy jelly.
- Add leftovers from any of the fruity items you have made and toss in fruit offcuts, juice, maas, probiotics - just about anything goes with smoothies.
- Use a few slices of avocado and make a smoothie with basil seed jelly, lime or orange juice, maas and a touch of mint. You can include sweet, sour or savory items to avocado because it has a neutral yet creamy quality.
- Add dates, especially during Ramadan and a touch of honey to honour this occasion
Strawberry and basil seed sorbet with balsamic vinegar
Keep chunks of frozen fruit in the freezer to make this at short notice
This method can be used to make different types of fruit ices. All you do is chop up your strawberries or canned apricots, Kiwi fruit, mangoes or persimmon (Sharon) fruit. For a firm fruit ice, add the chunks to a narrow container with a few spoons of soaked basil seeds. Process the mixture with a powerful stick blender such as a Bamix utensil. If it is too hard to work into a slurry then allow the fruit chunks to thaw out for a while or add a little boiling water to the container. Mixtures can be made according to what you have available. Here are a few ideas:
- Strawberries with balsamic vinegar
- Persimmons (Sharon fruit) with granadilla
- Apricots with banana
- Avocado with orange juice
- Add dates, soaked basil seeds, nuts and molasses to any of the bases
Dairy free ice cream – the perfect vegan substitute
Now for the final luxury. A rich, sweet creamy ice cream without the cream! Some fruit is just perfect the way it is for making ice cream. Persimmons are the best. Try to find the newer variety called Sharon fruit. There are no pips and the flesh is sweet and creamy. Peel the fruit and chop it into tiny pieces and keep them in the freezer. This time, leave out the basil seeds so you get a perfect creamy, dreamy ice cream. All you do is process it with a powerful stick blender until you have what looks and tastes like real ice cream.
The same method applies to banana ice cream. Choose firm bananas without any black spots. Freeze the chopped pieces. Tip them into the mixing cup but add somecoconut cream or coffee creamer (that naughty white powder) and a blob of honey or maple syrup. Eat it immediately. As it softens, use it as a creamy addition to any of the other fruit desserts, especially the jelly.
To make avocado ice cream process the frozen chunks and add lime or lemon juice. It can be sweetened or add salt and pepper for a savoury addition to a starter.
Frozen desserts so you can have your pudding and eat it
We make fruit ices and ice cream with frozen pieces because they are ready to eat. If the fruit is processed and then placed in the freezer they tend to freeze solid. If you want to freeze some of the mixtures, as I have done here, then allow them to thaw out slightly. Some of them are full of icy crystals and may need to be processed quickly before serving but they will be softer, more like a sauce which is also fine. There are no hard and fast rules. The food is in your hands! Do what is convenient, especially if you have more time to prepare food during the day.
Lastly, here is something so delicious I went back for my camera
I was busy cleaning up my kitchen after a few days of falooda frenzy. I have a very small working space and all the surfaces were piled up with dirty dishes and pieces of fruit. So as not to waste anything I flung the avocado pear slices and the banana into the blender on top of some leftover jelly. I scooped out the granadilla, squeezed out the last segment of lime juice and whizzed it all together. Oh wow! I think this was the best of bunch by far. I scrubbed my hands for the umpteenth time and took this last picture. I am sure you will all surprise yourselves with soaked basil seeds and I look forward to hearing how basil seeds have won you over.
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