indian rose falooda | recipe

Falooda is a popular dessert in India, Pakistan and Middle East. It is served as a Ice Cream Sundae Float in India and it has basil seeds, falooda sev, rabdi, rose syrup and kulfi or ice cream. Basil seeds are also popularly known as chia, subja or tukmaria seeds. Ready made Falooda sev is available in stores. If you are unable to find it, I have given the recipe for it below.

Falooda is a perfect summer drink or dessert. I’ve also found, that some families tend to adapt the recipe so it is served warm, by using hot milk instead of ice-cream in it’s preparation , for the winter months (as is being experienced in Cape Town as I write!) like a warm milky dessert drink. YUM! They are more like the Indian version of bubble tea where you can chew the basil seeds while enjoying the dessert.

The basil seeds are said to have medicinal values and used as a coolant for body heat. This is a very easy to make dessert and a great way to impress your guests without boring them with the usual desserts. Enjoy the homemade Falooda.


Faloods sev – 3/4 cup (recipe below)
Basil seeds or sabja or chia seeds – 1 tbsp (soaked a cup of water for an hour)
Rabdi – 1 cup (recipe below)
Vanilla ice cream – 1/2 pint (or 1 scoop for each cup)
Rose syrup
Toasted nuts for garnishing (optional)

Method of Preparation:

Preparation of rabdi:

Milk – 3 cups
Sugar – 1/2 cup
A pinch of cardamom
A few saffron strands (saffron is pretty hard to access and expensive in SA, I would suggest specialised Indian and Spanish food stores or alternatively you could use calendula or paprika)

Boil 3 cups of milk over medium heat in a pan. Lower the heat and let the milk reduce to 1/3 rd of the quantity stirring frequently.  Add sugar little at a time and check for sweet and add more. Finally add a pinch of cardamom powder, few saffron strands(optional).

Falooda Sev/Vermicelli:
Keep a bowl filled with ice and cold water. You can use sev maker for making these.

Mix 1/2 cup of corn flour with 1/2 cups of water and make a smooth mix. Add one more cup of water to the mixture. Heat a wide pan over medium heat and add this mix. Stir continuously and cook with forming any lumps. When it becomes transparent, stop cooking.
Add this to the sev press when it is piping hot. Press and squeeze the sev into the cold water and let it sit there till you use it for the falooda.

Making Falooda:

Fill serving glasses in the following order:

Add some falooda sev or vermicelli which serves as the bottom layer.
Add 2 to 3 tbsp of rabdi on top.
Add a tsp or 2 tsp of rose syrup depending on how strong you like the flavor.
Add 2 tbsp of soaked basil seeds or subja and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Add a few drops of rose syrup on top. Garnish with toasted nuts.

I find it delicious served with fresh sliced fruit.



slow made, home made authentic Indian chai tea

True Indian chai is a far cry from the watered-down Western coffeehouse version. Authentic chai is made with thick buffalo milk, a considerable amount sugar , black tea, and cardamon pods–-if you’re lucky.

First, all of these ingredient should be fresh (or as fresh as possible). You can get all these spices in specialised Indian spice shops.

1. Lipton Yellow Label black tea OR Five Roses Chai tea bags [DO NOT USE GREEN OR LEAF TEA, IT WILL RUIN THE TASTE].

2. Cloves, whole cinnamon sticks (good quality), star anise, fresh ginger + ginger powder, pink & black peppercorns, cardamon pods, vanilla husks (for taste)

3. Optional items: White khas-khas (Indian name of a spice, which is round dried seeds); and soanph (green dried, not roasted)

4. 250ml full-cream milk + 250ml tinned coconut milk. (If you’re lucky enough to find buffalo milk at Indian speciality stores, Durban mostly, then that would be perfect)


In a clean deep dish container, put 2 cups water, 1 cup milk, 1 full teaspoon black tea and spices as follows.

1 pod cardamon
1 tspn ginger zest
1 tblspn ground ginger
4-5 big size whole black & pink pepper corns
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 vanilla husk/pod
2 star anise pods

Pop the dry whole spices in a warm pan for less than 40 seconds. The heat releases the natural oils of the spice. On a piece of manila paper, crush all of the ingredients together. Immediately put this mix in dish with water and milk. Keep them on stove top about 15 minutes, keep stirring continuously. Add brown sugar and honey to your taste. Drain on strainer and serve in a cup.

The idea is to burn water from the tea while mixing the spices into the leftover tea. You may have to experiment with the quantity of water and milk to the final quantity of tea. In my experience, 2:1 ratio works better, i.e. I use 2 cups of (milk + water) for making one cup of chai. 1 cup of water is burned in the process. This provides smooth taste of chai.

Please note: Chai making can be fun, but you cannot cut time.