Falooda is a bright, aromatic, rose-flavored drink that could also pass for dessert. You might need a spoon, but it’s cooling and perfect for a warm day (and easy to make, too).
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As the weather warms up, we often turn to cold or frozen dishes. Sometimes it’s because we don’t want to warm up the kitchen (no cook tapas are great for that), other times it’s to cool down (like a mango popsicle). I also find I just don’t have the appetite for anything too heavy when the heat really gets up.
Something like this falooda is perfect for a hot day. It’s somewhere between a drink and dessert, so it fills you up a little while cooling you down. Plus it tastes delicious as well.
Where is falooda from?
Falooda (also spelled faluda, faloodah) is popular across the Indian subcontinent, but has it’s origins in Persia. Rose is a popular flavor in a number of Persian dishes, as in this.
It is believed to have been into South Asia by Persian merchants in the Middle Ages, and can be found in one form or another in many parts of the region. It is particularly well loved in the Indian subcontinent, which this version is based on.
In Iran you will find faloodeh, but it will look a little different from this. Both use vermicelli noodles and are flavored with rose, but the Persian faloodeh is generally more of a frozen dessert.
The Indian falooda is somewhere between a milkshake and bubble tea. It’s a drink you’ll need a spoon to fully enjoy since there are lots of ‘bits’, but it’s worth the effort. It’s so popular, you’ll find it both in restaurants and street food stalls in India and neighboring countries.
What are the main ingredients in falooda?
Falooda is made primarily from rose syrup, vermicelli noodles, basil seeds and milk. Some versions are topped with a scoop of ice cream and/or have some jelly in it as well.
You can also find other flavors in India, such as mango, but rose is certainly the most popular and considered the ‘original’.
Rose syrup is something you can buy in many Asian grocery stores and is different from rose water. Rose water is simply rose-infused water, while this is a thicker and sweeter syrup. In fact it’s essentially a simple syrup, which you can also use for things like cocktails.
A little word of caution: rose syrups can vary in how rose-flavored they are and if naturally or artificially flavored. So, you may need more or less than in this recipe.
You can make your own rose syrup using rosewater, water, sugar and a little red/pink food coloring if you can’t find it to buy (or prefer to know what’s in it). For me, I knew I didn’t need a lot so I made for that reason too.
For the noodle part, you can buy falooda sev, which are vermicelli specifically for falooda. However really, any thin noodles will be fine. Falooda sev can be made from cornstarch or arrowroot but wheat or rice noodles are also good.
One thing I did find was to do with the length of the noodles. While it might not be the most traditional, I think making it again I would cut the noodles into short lengths to make them easier to scoop up and eat.
What are edible basil seeds?
The basil seeds used in falooda are also called tukmaria or subza and come from the sweet basil or Thai basil plant. Don’t confuse this with the basil you may be more familiar with that’s common in Italian cooking.
Basil seeds are similar to chia seeds (you can see the basil seeds on the left above and chia on the right) but they are nutritionally slightly different. They react in a similar way to chia seeds when soaked, in that they become gelatinous.
In falooda, they give a texture a little like bubble tea, as I say, but just much smaller and lighter. They are often said to have a cooling effect, and the whole drink certainly has that feel to it. If you can’t find basil seeds, chia seeds are a good substitute here since they have a similar texture.
Once you have soaked the seeds and cooked the noodles, it’s simply a case of layering everything up in glasses.
With an unusual but fun mix of textures and a gently sweet rose-scented flavor, falooda is a great dessert-like drink that’s perfect on a warm day. Whether you keep it simple or add in the jello and/or ice cream, it’s no surprise it’s popular in a hot climate. And it’s definitely one to give a try this summer.
Try these other cooling drinks:
- Watermelon coconut agua fresca
- Mango lassi
- Blueberry lemonade
- Plus get more drinks recipes in the archives.
- 1/2 Tbsp basil seeds or substitute chia seeds
- 1 cup water 240ml
- 3/4 oz vermicelli noodles 21g (gives 1/2 cup cooked noodles) – falooda sev, traditionally, but any fine noodles will work
- 2 Tbsp rose syrup
- 1 cup milk 240ml
- Put the basil seeds in a bowl or jug and cover with the water. Leave for at least 20-30 minutes, or a little longer to soak and expand.
- Cook the noodles according to packet instructions, drain and set aside.
- Drain the basil seeds then divide them between two glasses (you should have around 2 1/2 tbsp in each). Top with the cooked noodles then a tbsp of rose syrup in each.
- Top each of the glasses with milk and serve.
The rose syrup is typically colored – if it is not, then add a little food coloring to the syrup or milk.
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I first shared the recipe for falooda (Indian rose drink) on Curious Cuisiniere where I am a contributor.