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Sep 17, 2005 10:37 PM

Falooda, faluda, faloodeh … bubble tea

  • r

An innocent little 99 cent kulfi bar (Indian popsicle), has me sampling Indian/Persian/Iranian frozen desserts. Not an area of the world that I associated with ice cream.

It seems that falooda is in a sense the equivalent of the term sundae, in that it involves ice cream but can have all different types of ingredients. The Persian version seems like a stripped down version of the Indian dessert. The Asian food dictionary says it is:

“An exotic Indian milk-based drink flavoured with rose syrup (sharbat gulab) and named for the strands of cornflour vermicelli that float in it. The vermicelli are not easy to make at home. An acceptable substitute is agar-agar jelly, flavoured with rose and coloured green or red”

I was just wondering what falooda means to you? Just whose idea was it to mix noodles with ice cream? Someone on the web concluded that bubble tea with its mixture of starchy tapioca pearls and liquid was based on drink-desserts like falooda, halo-halo (Philippines), che ba mau (Vietnam) and cendol (Malaysia).

It seems almost like a cross between a drink and a parfait. A glass may have layers of shaved ice, rose sherbet or bastani (Iranian ice cream), noodles, condensed sweet milk flavored with cardamom or saffron (Rabri), rose water or syrup, black tukmaria seeds (sabja). It may be sprinkled with chopped pistachios, slivered almonds or silver leaf. Sometimes rice noodles or noodles made of mung beans are used.

Someone said in Iran people drink it during the spring equinox (March 21st)

I’ve recently had bright pink agar agar noodles on top of kulfi.

I read the version of falooda in Delhi is different from the Parsi version.

The Persian version I had was like a lemonade with a scoop of sherbet. The sherbet was put into a glass of clear rose water. A shot of lemon juice was added to balance the slightly flowery and sweet rosewater. The whole thing was topped with what appeared to be shredded coconut but were the noodles. It was a lovely refreshing drink / dessert. I believe this is called faloodeh ba bastani (falooda with ice cream).

Any info would be appreciated. Would also like to hear of good versions and where you tried them.

Any accepted spelling of this dessert or is it country-dependant?

BTW, I found this article about the history of ice cream in Iran. Very cool (heh) picture of an early Iranian type of Good Humour cart.



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  1. We had a brief discussion about this on the NYC Outer Boroughs messages boards in conjunction with the Burmese Food Festival in Queens. Falooda/faluda/palooda is also served in Burma (undoubtedly an Indian influence) under the same name.

    I would trace its path as coming from India then spreading to neighboring countries. But can't substantiate this, I don't know of any other Burmese dish that has dairy in it. Coconut milk yes, cow-juice, no.

    In any case, the Burmese version has all the elements you describe above but also has scoops of Burmese flan. Had versions of this sometimes at Burmese restaurants here, but they don't really compare to making it at home (or realistically, having your mom or aunts make it at home.) The restaurant versions I've tried use Jell-O instead of agar-agar for the colorful bits.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jonathan Saw

      i posted a recipe for the falooda my family enjoys on the cooking board. my family is from india. when i saw falooda, i'm usually referring to the drink, but i think technically it's just the cornstarch noodles.

      1. re: arifa

        Thank you for taking the time to post the recipe. Interesting how those noodles are made.

        I linked your recipe so it doesn't get lost. Sorry for the slow response. I have a cold and it hurts to move, even my fingers. However, I appreciate the recipe.


    2. Mmmm....falooda. A very enjoyable treat which I used to have when living in or visiting India - yes at Persian New Year, March 21. As created by my Parsi friend, it was a milky rose flavored drink, with sabja seeds (don't know what the equivalent of that is in US, if any - they are black but when soaked they form a clear puffy coating, so they are both succulent and crunchy and very delicious). Then big scoops of vanilla ice cream were put in. So it's like an ice cream soda, but instead of soda, the rose milk. I do not even like rose flavoring, but this is simply delicious and refreshing. This gang of people did not serve it with noodles, but did have it with big bowl of potato chips on the side. Heavenly!!!!

      He only made it once a year, but a very big batch, so if I was lucky enough to be there at the right time and place, I got to have as much as would go down.

      Hubby and I (who have not been in the right place at the right time for many a long year) often think longingly of Falooda...I was thrilled to see this post!

      5 Replies
      1. re: Murghi

        I don't like flowery flavors like rose usually either, but it is really suprising how well it works for this dessert. As you said, very refreshing.

        1. re: Murghi

          Could the sabja seeds be basil seeds? In NY's Chinatown, I've seen them used in SE Asian drinks as well.

          1. re: chowmeow

            I've heard them referred to as basil seeds, too. But not the kind of basil that I think of when I hear "basil", i.e. Italian basil. We'll have to poll the Parsi/Irani population...what do they use, when not in India, to make their falooda???

          2. re: Murghi

            The black seeds use in Falooda which is the Zoroastrian (Parsi) version of the Iranian dessert are onion seeds.

            1. re: Murghi

              Here is what wikipedia has to say on the seeds:
              When soaked in water the seeds of several basil varieties become gelatinous, and are used in Asian drinks and desserts such as falooda or sherbet. Such seeds are known variously as sabja, subja, takmaria, tukmaria, or falooda seeds. They are used for their medicinal properties in Ayurveda, the traditional medicinal system of India.

            2. the iranian version of faloodeh has no dairy (and i've never seen it have seeds either). it's essentially a lemonade/rose watery slushy with vermicelli noodles mixed in. it can be served with bastani (the akbar mashdi ice cream referenced in your history-- creamy, saffron rich, with pistachio nuts on top), but is not necessarily. faludeh's often served with little bottles of lemon juice and sour cherry syrup to temper the sweetness of the faludeh itself. sadly, people aren't eating faludeh in iran these days because of a recent cholera epidemic and concerns over the safety of the water supply (i was just there and totally missed out!)

              in shiraz (where my shirazi friend claims faloodeh originated, don't know if that's substantiated) they call it paludeh.

              in the nyc area, you can get faludeh at persepolis on the ues. it's too frozen, not slushy enough and the noodles are broken, but hey, here you take what faludeh you can get...

              1. iam trying to find the receipe for faloodeh and can t seem to find it .Its made with vermicelli rose water and rice noodles but i dont have the exact amount cant seemed to get it right.Is there any one out there that has this receipe i would appreicate if you could email it to me. Thank you

                2 Replies
                1. re: yassi

         has several recipes for Indian/Pakstani falooda. The ingredients are very easily found at Indian groceries, including the noodles which are called "falooda sev." They're made from cornstarch.

                  1. re: yassi

                    I believe it's really simple. I don't have any measurements, but its a little bit of water, and a little bit of cornstarch. You mix and heat them until you have a doughy thing, then "extrude" it through a colander to get noodles. Set the colander over ice water with some rose water mixed in and let it soak/chill until you're ready to eat some kulfi.

                  2. Indo-Pak falooda is just as diverse as other subcontinental cuisine because it seems that each region and community has their own way. I agree it is a Persian export to South Asia as many foods came that may during the Muslim invasions and became essential parts of the cuisine.

                    For me falooda has any type of ice cream, vanilla is okay, not cookies n cream or anything though :-). It also has Rooh Afza brand rose syrup on it. Basil seeds are optional. (BTW they are definately NOT onionseeds/nigella, that is kalonji and a totally different seed). I always think of them fondly as frog eggs, but I love the texture.

                    I have never had Iranian faloodeh but it seems to be a totally different thing altogether.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: luckyfatima

                      I really like Rooh Afza! I bought the Indian stuff because it seemed to have more ingredients than the one manufactured in Pakistan (it's also a bit more expensive).
                      The Iranian and Indo-Pak have the sev in and the rose flavor in common, although I'm guessing that rose water is used in the Iranian kind (which is served with sour cherry sauce on the side).