Faluda is a sweet drink made from rose sherbet syrup, milk, basil seeds, vermicelli noodles and red jelly. When Fareena offered me a glass, I was a bit apprehensive because of its pink colour and musky smell, but it was delicious and really refreshing. I guzzled it down quickly, completely forgetting that it was made with Colombo tap water.


  • 85 g (3 oz) packet strawberry or raspberry jelly crystals
  • 1 tablespoon basil seeds*
  • 35 g (1¼ oz) dried seviyan vermicelli noodles*
  • 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) full-cream milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) rose syrup (or rose sherbet syrup)
  • 270 g (9½ oz/2 cups) ice cubes


Prepare the jelly according to the instructions on the packet and set aside to cool to room temperature. Line a rectangular container (measuring approximately 12 x 20 cm/4½ x 8 inches) with plastic wrap, leaving some plastic wrap hanging over the sides. Pour the jelly into the lined container, then place in the refrigerator to set.

Soak the basil seeds in 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) cold water for 15 minutes, or until soft and plump. While the seeds are soaking, bring 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) water to the boil in a saucepan, add the vermicelli noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until tender. Drain, rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking process, then drain and set aside.

Bring the milk to the boil in a large heavy-based saucepan. Stir in the sugar, then reduce the heat and simmer over low heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the rose syrup, and set aside to cool slightly.

Drain the basil seeds and add to the faluda, followed by the vermicelli noodles. Transfer to a large jug or container and chill in the refrigerator.

When the faluda is chilled, carefully remove the jelly from the container and cut into 2 cm (¾ inch) cubes. Take six tall glasses and fill each one halfway with the jelly and ice cubes, then pour over the faluda. Serve as a drink or dessert.