The falooda shops in Mumbai are a welcoming sight on a sweltering day when the temperature can easily top 115°F. A falooda is essentially an ice cream sundae with a twist (or three). It’s not only the ice cream that provides a cool respite from a steamy hot Mumbai afternoon, but also the basil seeds (referred to as takmaria in Hindi) that are frequently added because they have a cooling effect on the body (they contribute an effect similar to adding chia seeds to a juice—the seeds become somewhat gelatinous and fun to sip; if you have trouble finding basil seeds, chia seeds are a good substitute). Falooda’s origins are in Iran, where faloodehs have been enjoyed for centuries. The Indian falooda was introduced by the Mughal empire between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. The essential ingredients in a traditional falooda recipe include milk, sugar, ice cream, and a tapioca noodle frequently referred to as sev. It’s similar to vermicelli noodles and can be found in Indian markets. There are countless falooda flavors served throughout Mumbai, including mango, dried fruit, papaya and saffron, rose and cardamom, kiwi, strawberry, mixed fruit, jackfruit, pistachio, almond, and dragon fruit—to name a few! The flavor combinations are endless, so experiment and have fun with your new go-to summertime ice cream treat.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, sugar, and cardamom to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and transfer the mixture to a heatproof container. Refrigerate the cardamom milk until well chilled.
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the falooda sev and cook until tender, about 6 minutes. Drain and set aside. The noodles might get sticky as they cool, but they will break apart again once they are added to the liquid.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, cover the basil seeds with lukewarm water and set aside until they are soft and gelatinous, 7 to 8 minutes.
- To assemble the faloodas, place a scoop of ice cream in the bottom of two sundae glasses. Top with the noodles, drizzle with rose syrup, and add enough cardamom milk to cover the noodles. Sprinkle with the basil seeds, top each with another scoop of ice cream, and garnish with pistachios.
Reprinted with permission from Chaat by Maneet Chauhan and Jody Eddy copyright © 2020. Photographs by Linda Xiao. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.