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The Elusive Subja Seed

Why am I so captivated by the idea of drinking tasteless, slippery, crunchy-kerneled seeds? Because subja seeds sound like fun. I first learned of them by browsing The Indian Spice Kitchen, where Monisha Bharadwaj describes them, but Osimum basilicum seeds seem impossible to find.

I made a special trip to Seattle's Uwajimaya to track them down, but came up empty. I stopped at Market Spice at Pike Street, where they hadn't heard of them (but they suggested another shop down the street). I went into Souk, where the gentleman understood what I was looking for only after I described it; he knew the seeds by a different name, which he couldn't remember, and said his sister gets them at a shop (the name not in his memory) on Roosevelt Avenue. But I was out of time in the city and couldn't follow up. (But before I took more than a few steps out Souk's door, the proprietor called me back in, because he had asked his arriving friend what those seeds were called. Tukmaria, he said. Tukmaria.)

I'll try falooda and raat ki rani one day, but as my online searches supplied only frustration it may be a while. Sometime, somewhere around Boston, I assume I'll find a spot for subja seeds. And maybe they'll have candied anise, too.


Anonymous said…
Hi! Just tried a packaged drink we bought in the Indian Mall called royal falooda mix containing subja seeds that were purple and flavored sort of like black berrys. We boiled the falooda and then added the seeds sugar and flavor to the water left it over night and mixed it with crushed ice milk and ice cream as directed. We couldn't find out anything about the seeds till your note turned up first on google. You got the botanical name and all, really great. We were pursuing plantain seeds and muslim prayer beads so thanks for the short cut. They are gooey and nice. I like tapioca too.
scott.xot said…
Thanks for your comment, anonymous. Glad I could help your search, and thanks for helping mine! I have ordered some royal falooda mix from India Spice House and can't wait to try it.
Anonymous said…
I would suggest asking around for an Indian grocery store. My guess is you'll have to venture into the suburbs... they should have the seeds, and likely will refer to them as "tukmaria". You will get a package of thin, black seeds -- just soak them in cool water (in a steel pot is best) for a few hours, and voila! You have your tasty treat.

Good Luck!
Anonymous said…
Hey good information....
I wish to know if there are any health benifits out of subja- drink?
Anonymous said…
Not that I know of...
Anonymous said…
The Sabja Info:
In India we have an alltime favourite dessert falooda a cold milky drink that combines the sublime smoothness of ice cream the wholesomeness of milk the sweet perfume of rose syrup and the wonderful texture of noodles and subia seeds.
how they grow
Subia seeds grow on a variety of basil plant. This is found wild all over India and has dark green leaves and a branched erect stem. The plant grows to a height of 1m. The flowers grow in slender spike and give way to tiny seeds. These dry on the plant or are dried in the sun.
appearance and taste
The seeds are tiny black and tear drop shaped. When dropped into water they first develop a whitish grey bloom and then the skin swells appearing hurry. The outer coating is translucent and pale grey so the black seed within can be easily seen. Once they get to this stage they are ready to be eaten. They have no aroma or taste but a strange pleasant combination of contrasting textures. The outer fur is slippery and soft whereas the centre is crunchy.
buying and storing
Subla seeds may not be very easy to find but look for them in good indian grocery shops. A little amount puffs up to a lot and will go a long way so a bag of seeds seems to last for ever Store in a dry airtight jar for up to a year.
medicinal uses
Subia seeds are considered to be diuretic tonic and an excellent remedy for constipation and piles. The plant is recommended for coughs worms and stomach complaints and the juice of the leaves is applied externally for skin disorders.
culinary uses
Subja seeds are used in milk based drinks like falooda and on top of desserts like kulfi (indian ice cream). You can experiment with them as a garnish for other puddings fruit salad or even clear drinks. They need no cooking.
Anonymous said…
Bombay Sweets and Spices in Danbury, CT has Tukmaria (Subja) seeds. I bought them there on a whim, thinking I'd find them in at least one of the Indian cookbooks I have, but they weren't listed. My online adventure to find out what they were and their uses was amusing, as my package has "Tuk Maria" printed on it, not Tukmaria, and I kept coming up with info on some group called The Black Seeds.

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