Chia Seeds vs Sabja Seeds: How They Differ

29 Jun

Chia Seeds and Sweet Basil Seeds

You read that right: chia seeds and sabja seeds are not the same. Ignore the wisdom that tells you otherwise. Here’s a rundown of the differences between these two wonder foods.

Origins:

Both chia seeds and sabja seeds originate from the aromatic mint family (Lamiaceae) – that explains their resemblance.

They part ways in the specifics:

  • chia seeds: Salvia hispanica, native to central and souther Mexico and Guatemala [link]
  • sabja seeds: Ocimum basilicum, possibly native to India [link]. The plant is commonly called sweet basil or Genovese basil.

Color:

A quick chromatic scrutiny is all it takes to tell the seeds apart.

Chia Seeds vs Sabja Seeds

  • chia seeds: Shades of dark brown, color variations
  • sabja seeds: Evenly black

Liquid Absorption:

I ran this experiment with a teaspoon each of chia seeds and sabja seeds, soaked separately in three tablespoons of water.

  • chia seeds: Take their time to absorb water. You see a noticeable swelling only after a while.
  • sabja seeds: Begn to swell at the touch of water. A translucent white film coats each black seed as they swell. Also, sabja seeds grow to a larger volume than chia seeds.

Chia Seeds and Sabja Seeds in Water

Texture:

They may both look like sesame or nigella seeds when dry, but when soaked, they come into their their own distinctive selves.

  • chia seeds: Soft to bite after they have soaked in liquid
  • sabja seeds: More gluey than chia seeds when soaked in liquid


Taste:

The proof is in the pudding!

  • chia seeds: Bland/neutral, take on the flavor of whatever they are eaten with. A popular way to eat chia is in pudding form with almond milk or coconut milk, along with with fruit toppings.
  • sabja seeds: Fragrant. When added to desserts or lemonade, they impart their own basilly touch.

Can we substitute chia seeds with sabja seeds?
For most recipes, I would say not. Sabja seeds are fine as garnish in drinks or desserts, not as base for pudding – a role that suits chia seeds beautifully. Likewise, you may gulp down Chia Seed Lemonade keeping the health benefits in mind, but I doubt if you would enjoy the choice of chia over sabja in the drink.

Cost:

Specific to India: the last I checked in stores, this is how the prices compared:

Seed Type Cost Cost Per Gram
Chia Seeds Rs.285 for a 150 gram pack Rs. 1.90
Sabja Seeds Rs.40 for a 100 gram pack Rs.0.40

 

Verdict: At the time of writing, chia seeds are over four times more expensive than sabja seeds.

Recipes:

A few interesting recipes from around the web. Enjoy!

Chia Seeds

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2 Responses to “Chia Seeds vs Sabja Seeds: How They Differ”

  1. kantha June 30, 2016 at 12:47 PM #

    Hi, what about the health benefits of the two?

    • S July 1, 2016 at 1:46 AM #

      I rely on borrowed knowledge for this one (details in the wiki links @ #1): health-wise, both seem great for keeping weight in check, providing a good dose of nutrients/fibre while being low in calories.

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