There’s something about faluda. Cooling, perfumed, and creamy – it is both indulgent and nourishing; although the latter part may be only minimal, and it always reminds me of Ramadan and Eid.
It is the ice cream sundae of the East, and was once the dessert that adorned the gilded tables of Mughal emperors, who are said to have brought it with them.
There are many variations of this dessert; some include candied fruits and jelly, and some include kulfi — the popular reduced-milk South Asian ice cream.
These may be perfect for a lavish dinnertime dessert, but for something that settles your faluda cravings quickly, my recipe can be put together (with a little prep) in a matter of minutes. Dollops of vermicelli and basil seeds, also known as ‘tokma’ are layered with rose syrup and topped with chilled milk, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and nuts.
700ml whole milk
2 tbsp basil seeds (tokma)
40g fine vermicelli noodles
6 tbsp rose syrup (Rooh Afza)
4 scoops vanilla ice cream
1 tbsp almonds, finely sliced
1 tbsp pistachios, finely chopped
Extra rose syrup
Mint leaves (optional)
In a pan, bring the milk to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring continuously. Cool completely, pour into a jug and chill in the fridge. Meanwhile, soak the basil seeds in around 300ml cold water for 30 minutes.
Prepare the vermicelli by boiling for 5-7 minutes, or until soft. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside. Finely chop a tablespoon each of almonds and pistachios and set aside for the garnish. After 30 minutes, drain the basil seeds. The milk should be chilled after an hour in the fridge, so remove the jug and stir in 6 tablespoons of rose syrup.
Start assembling your faluda. Take four glasses and first add 1½ tablespoon of the soaked basil seeds to each glass. Next, divide the vermicelli in four portions, and layer onto the basil seeds. Pour equal amounts of the rose syrup and milk into each glass and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Drizzle with extra syrup if desired and sprinkle with the chopped nuts. Garnish with a mint leaf if you wish to.
Add a spoon and dig in!
Recipe and photo: Dina Begum