Faluda: A Decadent Dessert Drink - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

Faluda: A Decadent Dessert Drink


A perfect sweet treat for summer.

Faluda, with its tantalizing technicolor layers and mix of flavors and textures, is a sensory goldmine. “Faluda was originally a dessert from Persia that trickled down to India with variations now abounding in Sri Lanka and other parts of Southeast Asia,” explains O Tama Carey, the chef and restaurateur behind Sydney’s acclaimed Lankan Filling Station. Carey’s new book, Lanka Food (available June 21), celebrates the chef’s Sri Lankan heritage and features a version of the drink served at the restaurant. “I included it in Lanka Food as my mum always used to talk about the excitement of having this cold, sweet drink as an after-school treat.”

The decadent beverage combines floral notes with the vanilla-like flavor of sweet pandan-infused noodles and tapioca. “As far as I know, the essential ingredients are rose syrup, milk, ice cream, and basil seeds,” says Carey. “From there, the variations are many. You can have a jelly but more often there’s some sort of noodle. The rose syrup gives it a sweet, floral taste, and it is almost akin to a milkshake but with more texture. The basil seeds are also cooling to the body … Faluda is perfect for an afternoon treat. It gets so hot that you need something cool and sometimes the sugar hit is essential.”

At the restaurant, Carey makes a glutinous pandan noodle but offers a simplified version here with rice noodles. All of the prepared elements will make enough for about 10 servings and should keep in the refrigerator for a week—”ready for the urge for a faluda to hit you,” says Carey.




Prepare the pandan syrup, noodle strands, tapioca, and basil seeds a day early.

For the syrup, combine the sugar and 400 ml (13 ½ fl oz.) water in a small saucepan over a high heat and bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature, then stir in the pandan essence. Divide the syrup evenly into two separate containers.

In a pot of boiling, slightly salted water, blanch your noodle strands for 5 minutes. Strain, run under cold water, then add to one of the containers of pandan syrup and leave in the fridge overnight.

Cook the tapioca in 2 liters (68 fl oz.) of boiling water for 14–15 minutes until just translucent. Drain and run under cold water, then place in the other container of pandan syrup and leave it in the fridge overnight.

Combine the basil seeds and 350 ml (12 fl oz.) water in a small container and leave to soak in the fridge overnight.

When you’re ready for your faluda, pour the rose syrup into a milkshake glass (or other large glass) and add a handful of ice. Add 2 tablespoons each of the basil seeds, tapioca pearls and soaked noodle strands, along with a little of the pandan syrup. Layer in a scoop of ice cream and top the glass with milk.

Serve with a thick straw and a spoon. Give the drink a good stir before you sip as you don’t want to end up with a mouthful of rose syrup on its own.

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