There is no incorrect way to layer falooda, the milky, traditionally rose-flavored dessert beloved in India, Pakistan, and other parts of South Asia. Everyone has their own preference on how to stack the components—but agree that falooda is always best built in a tall glass. This dessert stars bouncy cubes of rose jelly suspended in rose syrup–sweetened milk over layers of tender corn vermicelli and chewy chia seeds. A crowning scoop of vanilla ice cream adds a creamy finish. With its beguiling mix of textures, the Royal Falooda belongs to a category of colorful, cooling desserts that appear throughout Asia which are hard to label but extremely easy to eat.
5 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons cold water, divided, plus more for rinsing
2 teaspoons chia seeds
6 tablespoons rose syrup (rooh afza), divided
2 teaspoons agar-agar powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ ounce uncooked corn vermicelli (falooda sev) or rice vermicelli
1 ½ cups cold milk
1 cup vanilla ice cream
Finely chopped pistachios and dried edible rose petals, for garnish
Stir together 2 tablespoons cold water and chia seeds in a small bowl; let soak at room temperature until water is absorbed, at least 20 minutes or up to 12 hours. Set aside.
Whisk together 3 tablespoons rose syrup, agar-agar powder, and 1 1/2 cups cold water in a small saucepan until well combined. Bring to a boil over medium, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Pour mixture into an 8 1/2- x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Use a spoon to skim off any bubbles from surface. Let cool completely at room temperature, uncovered and undisturbed, until set, about 45 minutes. Run a knife along edges of pan. Flip pan over; gently tap bottom to release jelly. Cut into 36 (1/2- to 3/4-inch) cubes. Set aside.
Bring remaining 4 cups cold water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Stir in salt, and return to a boil. Add vermicelli; cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water; drain well, and set aside. Whisk together cold milk and remaining 3 tablespoons rose syrup in a medium measuring cup with a spout; set aside.
Evenly layer 1 tablespoon chia seeds and 2 tablespoons vermicelli into 2 (12-ounce) serving glasses. Top each glass with about 2/3 cup jelly cubes. (Reserve remaining jelly cubes for snacking.) Gently pour 3/4 cup milk mixture into each glass; top each with 1/2 cup ice cream. Sprinkle each with pistachios and rose petals.
Each week, The Splendid Table brings you stories that expand your world view, inspire you to try something new and show how food brings us together. We rely on you to do this. And, when you donate, you'll become a member of The Splendid Table Co-op. It's a community of like-minded individuals who love good food, good conversation and kitchen companionship. Splendid Table Co-op members will get exclusive content each month and have special opportunities for connecting with The Splendid Table team.
Donate today for as little as $5.00 a month. Your gift only takes a few minutes and has a lasting impact on The Splendid Table and you'll be welcomed into The Splendid Table Co-op.