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Lands of the Curry Leaf

Lands of the Curry Leaf

By Peter Kuruvita

Published 2018

  • About

Perfect for long hot days, falooda is available all over the subcontinent. It originated in Shiraz, Iran (a country formerly known as Persia), and is one of the oldest drinks we know of. The word ‘falooda’ means ‘shredded’, because this olden-day slushie originally contained vermicelli noodles. Traditionally, ice made from frozen sugar syrup was crushed and mixed with rice noodles and rosewater, then topped with lime juice or with strawberry, sour cherry or pomegranate syrup.

My version and many others now have differing ingredients, but the rosewater syrup is the key to this lovely drink.

Preparation 20 minutes + 3–4 hours setting
Cooking 20 minutes


  • 1–2 teaspoons sweet basil seeds
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) cold milk (or camel’s milk, if available)

Rosewater Syrup

  • 385 g (13½ oz/ cups) sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 435 ml (15¼ fl oz/ cups) rosewater
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) corn syrup (optional, to stop the syrup crystallising)
  • 3 teaspoons good-quality natural vanilla extract
  • a few drops of pink food colouring (or as much or as little as you prefer)

Strawberry Jelly

  • 1 titanium-strength gelatine leaf
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) moscato or clear apple juice
  • 1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh strawberry purée


To make the rosewater syrup, put the sugar, salt and 375 ml (13 fl oz/ cups) of the rosewater in a saucepan. Add the corn syrup, if using. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the vanilla extract. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture has a nice thick, syrupy consistency. Remove from the heat and leave to cool to room temperature. Add the remaining 60 ml (2 fl oz/ ¼ cup) rosewater and stir to combine. Add the food colouring, a drop at a time, and mix until you get a dark pink colour.

To make the strawberry jelly, soak the gelatine leaves in 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) cold water until soft. Meanwhile, bring the moscato and sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan, then leave to cool. Stir in the strawberry purée, add the soaked gelatine leaves (including the water) and whisk until dissolved. Pour into a small container and leave to set in the fridge for 3–4 hours.

Near serving time, soak the basil seeds in 125 ml (4 fl oz/ ½ cup) water for about 10 minutes, or until they form a gel coating. Drain the seeds and set aside.

Cut the strawberry jelly into 1 cm (½ inch) cubes. (You may not need all the strawberry jelly for this recipe. The remainder will keep in the fridge for several days, to use in your next falooda or other desserts.)

To serve, pour the milk into two glasses. To create a layered effect, slowly pour in the rosewater syrup, using about 50 ml ( fl oz) syrup per glass, or to taste. The remaining syrup will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for several months.

Fill the bottom of each glass with jelly cubes. Sprinkle with the reserved basil seeds and serve.