Persian Style Rosewater Chia Seed Drink

So here I am with an unusual chia seed recipe. It’s a Persian-inspired cooler scented with rosewater. How does it sound?

I love to stir my rosewater chia seed drink and watch the pretty seeds dance in the light syrup around the ice cubes. And I love the faint scent of rosewater when I raise the glass to drink. This is just the perfect drink for those long and hot summer days when nothing else seems to quench my thirst.

Rosewater and lots of ice makes chia seed drink really refreshing.

My recipe for this very refreshing drink (or non-recipe) is based on a traditional and very popular Persian summer drink made with wild basil seeds (tokhm-e sharbati). If you’ve ever been to Iran during summer you’ve probably seen street vendors selling this refreshing drink or people on the street just handing cups of this from a large tub  with large chunks of ice to passersby on religious occasions as a token that God has accepted and realised a wish (nazr).

I had never had chia before leaving my home a few years ago to live abroad. I discovered the similarity of chia seeds to wild basil seeds after I bought some, not knowing what it tasted like or how to use it. I soaked the seeds to mix them in yoghurt as one recipe instructed. But as soon as I tasted the gooey soaked seeds it downed on me that I could use them in the same way as wild basil seeds.

Chia seeds on the left, wild basil seeds on the right.
Chia seeds on the left, wild basil seeds on the right.

Wild basil seeds are very tiny and black but once soaked they swell, like chia seeds, and turn a gorgeous bluish grey. In Iran besides making summer drinks they are added to a refreshing sorbet-like dessert from Yazd (faloodeh yazdi). Traditional Persian herbalists prescribe soaked wild basil seeds for coughs, digestive problems and many other things including depression. If you are lucky to have a Persian grocery near you ask for tokhm-e sharbati and give it a try. If you like chia, you’ll love tokhm-e sharbati!

Persian rosewater and wild basil seed summer drink (sharbat-e golab ba tokhm-e sharbati).


  • chia seeds
  • water
  • sugar, honey or sugar substitute
  • rosewater


  1. Put two tablespoons of chia seeds in 400ml of cold water, stir well and let stand for half an hour or more.
  2. Make a very light syrup with 200ml of hot water and four tablespoons of sugar (less if you wish) or other natural sweetener such as honey. Let cool.
  3. Add one tablespoon rosewater (not essence) to the soaked chia and enough syrup to sweeten it to your liking. Pour into four glasses and add lots of ice. Garnish with a fresh rose petal (or dried bud – I didn’t have fresh) or a sprig of mint and enjoy!

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