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Author Notes: This recipe is featured in the story, 4 Milky Indian Elixirs to Soothe & Sweeten Your Day, sponsored by Milk Life.
Ah, falooda: The magnificent, high-maintenance, completely-worth-the-fuss drink that turns heads. Every element, from the basil seeds (which expand and make the drink jelly-like), vermicelli (which adds a nice, surprising texture), the quenelle of ice cream on top, and, most notably, the shocking pink rose syrup that runs through it all, is a showstopper.
It’s a drink I’m more likely to order at a cafe than make at home, because I rarely have vermicelli at home, but I sometimes make a lazy version of this recipe with just organic milk, chia seeds—which I prefer to basil seeds because they’re widely available and provide more of a gelled texture—and Rooh Afza, a concentrated fruit and herb syrup with the primary taste of rose (you can find it at any Indian or Pakistani grocery store). If you don't have access to this or rose syrup, try it with any other syrup you have on hand, like strawberry or maple; it won't be a falooda anymore, but you'll enjoy it all the same. —Nikkitha Bakshani
Prep time: 30 min
teaspoons basil or chia seeds
handful (nest) falooda sev or rice vermicelli
cups organic whole milk, plus more for soaking chia seeds
tablespoons rose syrup or Rooh Afza (available at Indian stores), divided
Vanilla ice cream, for topping (optional)
Crushed pistachios, for topping (optional)
- Cover chia seeds in water, and let them soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour. In the meantime, prepare the falooda sev/vermicelli according to package instructions, except when it’s done, immediately drain and rinse with cold water so it doesn’t cook any further. Using scissors, cut them into tiny, 1-inch-or-less pieces (so they are easier to drink through a straw).
- In each glass, place 1 tablespoon of rose syrup/rooh afza. Add enough vermicelli to make an inch of height. Then place a tablespoon (or more, depending on your preference) of the soaked basil or chia seeds (they would have expanded by now). Divide the rose milk between the two glasses, making sure there’s enough room in the top for a scoop of ice cream; there might be some milk leftover. Do not stir. Top with a scoop of ice cream each, and sprinkle some pistachios over the top.