As children, having falooda at iftar was like having parent-mandated milkshake every day of the week.
My mother always boiled the milk first and let it cool before adding the rose syrup and other ingredients. I suspect that was because children were prone to upset stomachs after drinking ‘raw’ milk, and especially during Ramadhan we have to be more careful.
My first job during falooda making was to soak the basil seeds (these always reminded me of tadpoles) and to make the china grass (like stiff jelly with no flavor). This was the only recipe that we ever used china grass in, although I found a dessert recipe sent by my mother’s friend who also provided the china grass powder. It has been years since I saw china grass (agar agar) and until a few days ago had not even seen it in any supermarkets in Dubai.
In Dubai I have tasted falooda made like a fruit salad or with horrid boiled vermicelli. Our falooda milkshake is sweetened with rose syrup, enriched with full cream ice cream and has basil seeds and china grass for texture. It is a refreshing and cooling drink after a long and tiring day.
- 5 ml basil seeds (approximately 1 teaspoon)
- 5 ml china grass powder (agar agar) (approximately 1 teaspoon)
- 5 ml teaspoon rose water (approximately 1 teaspoon)
- 200 ml hot water
- 1 litre milk
- 125 ml rose syrup (approximately ½ cup)
- Vanilla or strawberry ice cream
- Note: I used Middle Eastern rose syrup for this recipe. If you are using a Pakistani or Indian rose syrup check the sweetness after the first 90 ml of syrup as the taste and sweetness may vary.
- If you want to add color to the china grass you may add 5-10ml rose syrup before boiling and reduce the water by the same amount.
- Put the basil seeds in a small bowl or cup and cover with water. Allow to soak for at least 30 minutes.
- In a small milk pot add the china grass powder and pour over the hot water. Stir vigorously until dissolved and bring to the boil before adding 1 teaspoon of rose water. Let it cool, then cover and refrigerate until set.
- Boil the milk and allow to cool, then decant into a jug and refrigerate.
- Just before serving add the rose syrup to the milk and mix thoroughly to combine.
- Grate the china grass into a bowl.
- For each serving glass add 2 small scoops of ice cream, 1 teaspoon drained basil seeds and 1 teaspoon grated china grass.
- Pour over the falooda milk and serve with a sprinkling of rose petals.