Today I have for you a drink that is perfect for summer days. Falooda is a syrup made of fruits, herbs and flowers popular in India and its neighbouring countries, filled with rose syrup and milk, basil seeds (many know them as falooda seeds), vermicelli sev noodles, vanilla ice cream and strawberry jello. This is a great drink to have during summer or for Ramadan Iftar. If you’ve always wondered how to make falooda, please read on!
Please watch video at the end of post for all of the recipe steps
As a child, my family would frequent a local Pakistani restaurant called ‘Mehran’. It was very popular at the time and everyone had their celebrations there. I remember a slide up front that I would be excited to wait in turn to slither down. The food was a little hot for me but I loved their Kadhai gosht (mutton or beef curry with ginger), freshly baked Pakistani bread and Chinese style fried rice. Yes, a bit of an odd combination. At the end of most meals, we would order Falooda. The colours and textures would get me curious, but the taste? Not so much. That is probably not how I should be promoting this recipe but hear me out!
If you are from a South Asian background, you’ve probably tried ‘rooh afza’ during Ramadan. It’s a syrup combined of fruits, flowers, herbs and also vegetables. It is very popular during summer and is mixed with cold milk, ice cream, yoghurt, soda, and milk desserts. And I have to tell you, it’s an acquired taste. The brilliant pomegranate red of the rose syrup looks enticing, but the taste may not be everyone. Rooh afza was formulated in the early 20th century in British India and it remains popular to this day. Somewhere down the line, someone decided to combine rose syrup, milk, ice cream and noodles to give us the present day Falooda.
I still am not a big fan of rooh afza, but I developed a liking for it in Malaysia with the local ‘Syrup Bandung’. Milk was loaded with sugar, rose syrup and lots of ice and I found it really refreshing. Fast forward to present day and I thoroughly enjoy a well-made falooda.
Let me enlighten you with the intricacies of falooda. You need a generous drizzle of rose syrup (rooh afza). Then you fill 3/4th up with cold milk. You also use basil (sabja or tukmaria) seeds, that are soaked in water. They are very much like chia seeds in that they absorb water to expand in size but they have a higher fibre content and absorb water in a fraction of the time as chia seeds. Basil seeds are even more nutritious than chia seeds. They also cost a FRACTION of the price!
Then you need vermicelli (sev) noodles. You can use any vermicelli noodles as long as they are very thin. Boil according to package instructions and add. You need full-fat vanilla ice cream (no cutting calories here) and it all comes together with strawberry jello. I like to add some vanilla as well to elevate the flavour. Garnish with extra rose syrup, jello and pistachios and you are ready to rumble!
Some of these ingredients may not sound familiar and you may be stressing about where to source them. Most or all Indian grocery stores will stock them however if you haven’t got one near you, I’ve provided some substitutes below.
- Basil seeds: Use chia seeds instead, they look almost identical when soaked.
- Vermicelli noodles: Spaghettini pasta will also do.
- Rooh afza: Honestly, I can’t think of a substitute…it’s just that unique. You could try making rose water from scratch using rose petals, but that’s the only thing I can suggest.
All these ingredients are readily available at Indian grocery stores. You can find basil seeds in packets labelled ‘Sabja’, ‘Falooda’ or ‘Tukmaria’ seeds. Vermicelli noodles may alternately be labelled as Vermicelli sev noodles.
This recipe is for two but you can easily halve the ingredients (or double) according to the number of people you want to serve. Hope you enjoy drinking this during Iftar this Ramadan or as a refreshing summer drink!
Do you have a favourite rooh afza recipe you’d like to share? Please comment below!
Falooda is an South Asian staple drink that combines rooh afza, milk, basil seeds, ice cream, jello and noodles to make a refreshing summer drink that is also filling!
- 10 tbsp rooh afza
- 2 tsp basil seeds (soak in 2-3 tbsp water)
- 50 grams vermicelli sev noodles
- 3 cups cold milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 scoops vanilla ice cream
- 4 tbsp strawberry jello
- pistachios for garnish
- extra jello and rooh afza for garnish
Prepare strawberry jello as per package directions and refrigerate until set.
Soak basil seeds in water for 10 minutes and set aside.
Boil vermicelli noodles as per package directions until cooked, 3-4 minutes. Drain.
Add 2 tbsp of rooh afza in each glass.
Add 1 1/2 cups of cold milk in each glass.
Drizzle remaining rooh afza equally.
Add 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract in milk.
Stir to combine most of the rose syrup (you should still see a red layer on the bottom).
Divide cooked/drained vermicelli noodles equally.
Divide soaked basil seeds equally (approximately 1 1/2 tbsp each).
Add 2 tbsp of strawberry jello each.
Top with 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream.
Garnish with extra jello, rose syrup and pistachios. Enjoy cold!
Watch how to make falooda