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Besobela, Coarse (Ethiopia)

Ocimum spp.

Grown by: Truelove Seeds Farm in Glen Mills, PA

  • $5.00

Besobela is a unique herb associated with the injera/wat cuisine, which evolved in the highlands and mid-highlands of hinterland Ethiopia.

The main purpose of this holy basil is to add flavor in the preparation of berbere, shiro, and clarified butter (clarified/infused cooking butter for wat/alicha is different from the Gurage/kitfo version - an important detail that's often overlooked). It's also added to white shiro and alicha during the last minute of cooking as a finishing herb.

This fragrant, purple-flowered basil grows wild and cultivated in Ethiopia where it is harvested by hand, sun-dried, and pulverized for cooking.

Thank you to Menkir Tamrat for providing some of this description.

Hayat Ali of Salam Cafe in Philadelphia prefers this variety and says this besobela has a stronger flavor that lasts longer. Our seeds come from Menkir Tamrat, an Ethiopian tech-worker turned farmer who introduced these seeds and other Ethiopian varieties to Fred Hempel, who runs Artisan Seeds in Sunol, CA.

Days to maturity: 60-70

Seeds per pack: 100-115

Germination rate: 93% on 01/30/2024

Planting / harvesting notes

Sow seeds on the surface of moist potting soil and keep it evenly moist and in the sunlight until germination. Start indoors, and later transplant in full sun 10-12 inches apart. Continually harvest - this plant is a vigorous grower in warmer months.

Seed keeping notes

Allow seedheads to dry on the plant. Cut the stalks below the lowest seed clusters. If necessary, dry the seedheads further in the sun on a sheet or table away from moisture and precipitation. When fully dry, whack the seedheads in a bucket, allowing the ripest seed to fall. Sift through strainers to remove the largest chaff, and then winnow off the lighter chaff with your breath, a fan, or the wind.


This product is part of the African Diaspora Collection.

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