This one is near and dear to us. This is one of our childhood favourites and it’s perhaps Mr K’s favourite post on this blog so far! It’s something we enjoyed drinking the heck out of as kids growing up in Sri Lanka and imagine our glee when we serendipitously discovered how to replicate the flavour of this drink while working on a totally different recipe! 🙂 This is Sri Lankan Faluda / Falooda or Rose and Vanilla Milkshake! Here I’m going to share with you the recipe to make the Sri Lankan faluda syrup from scratch (i.e. how to make the Rose Syrup but with a secret ingredient!) plus how to make Sri Lankan falooda / faluda. This dessert drink is also quite popular in India and other parts of South Asia, but the Sri Lankan falooda syrup version is a tad different and distinct (and I’ll tell you why) and that’s why I have named this recipe as such.
This may seem like much ado about a glass of pink milkshake, but I assure you it’s not! 🙂 When I was little, I used to frequent places called “Bombay Sweet shops” in Sri Lanka, that served traditional sweets from India. It was quite a treat to go there, and it didn’t happen often (because kids loaded on sugar, apparently wasn’t my parents’ idea of a quiet weekend), but every time we did, I came home buzzing from excitement (and the sweets) of having had one of my most favourite drinks, an indulgent, creamy “milkshake” called Faluda (or Falooda).
And then we moved to New Zealand, and Falooda became elusive. I didn’t realize how devastating it was to be deprived of this treat until I happened upon a bottle of Rose syrup (sharbat) in an Asian groecry store and got totally worked up because I was sure this had to be the same faluda / falooda syrup that was used back in Sri Lanka to make that drink. So I took it home and whipped up the drink right away.
We were sorely disappointed! It was a rose syrup drink, and that’s what the faluda is supposed to be made out of, and the recipes you find online use exactly that, but it just wasn’t the real deal. It wasn’t the Sri Lankan version that we grew up on and loved. I couldn’t really put my finger on what was missing at the time. It seemed a bit too…. rosy, if that makes any sense. It was still quite delicious, don’t get me wrong, but not what we wanted. So that bottle of rose syrup sat in a dark corner inside a cupboard until it was forgotten and ultimately left us with nary a goodbye.
Things improved in the years that followed as a Sri Lankan grocery store came into existence where we lived and they started bringing down the Sri Lankan faluda syrup (marketed as Artificial Sherbet Syrup), and I finally got reacquainted with one of my favourite dessert drinks from childhood.
Later, I tried to replicate the recipe at home, several times, but it just wasn’t the same. I never quite figured out what made that rose syrup, Sri Lankan.
Until – call it a happy accident, a pleasant surprise or serendipitous discovery, I finally figured out what was missing when I first made my Raspberry, Pistachio and Rose Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I remember asking Mr K to taste test the frosting, which he did, and then stopped, reached out for a little more, tasted it again and then looked at me and said “this tastes just like faluda!” I told him it was rose water, not faluda syrup, but then when I tasted it, it hit me too! I had added something to my frosting (which I made using rose water) that made it taste like the faluda from our childhood.
Was it the butter? Couldn’t be, because my mum is lactose intolerant and she never could have enjoyed this drink if it had butter.
Was it egg whites? Maybe the syrup was filtered or purified with egg whites (like wine)? but that couldn’t change the flavour right?
What was left was vanilla.
And that’s exactly what it turned out to be! Just vanilla! 🙂
Just that essence, that we use often when baking and in sweets, that sweetness, that fragrance and that distinct flavour. But until that point I had NEVER picked up the flavour of vanilla in faluda. But lo and behold, VANILLA WAS THE DAMN SECRET INGREDIENT! That day, we were more excited about our discovery than the actual frosting 😀
So, for those who are familiar with the original Sri Lankan faluda taste, and who have used rose syrup or sharbat syrup to make it, I implore you, just add the smallest amount of vanilla, and see how it transforms your drink! Vanilla ice cream is often added to this dessert drink and that can obviously give that flavour too, but some people enjoy it without the ice cream (like myself) and the rose/sharbat syrup alone NEVER gave me that flavour I wanted.
So here I am sharing the Faluda / Falooda Rose syrup recipe from scratch, made with Rose water, sugar, and the added vanilla plus how to assemble the final Faluda / Falooda drink. Complete with my favourite fixings (not all the traditional fixings).
My favourite fixing for this dessert drink has to be the Tukmaria seeds (also known as basil seeds, sabja seeds or kasa-kasaa). Much like chia seeds, these seeds develop a gelatinous coating when soaked in water, but a much thicker one than chia. I love these so much, I would just soak them in water and eat them just like that. It’s weird, but I’m just very fond of that texture. I made homemade strawberry – rose jello and vanilla ice cream as well to add to this faluda drink, but you can definitely use store bought too.
And for those who know the flavour of Sri Lankan, MD Artificial Sherbet Syrup – this faluda syrup from scratch, has the same taste as that.
Sri Lankan Faluda Syrup & Drink (Rose and Vanilla Milkshake)Print
Sri Lankan Faluda
- 3-4 tbsp Homemade Falooda Syrup (or storebought falooda syrup) add more or less, to your preference
- 1 cup of cold milk
- 1-2 tsp Tukmaria also called basil seeds/sabja seeds/kasa-kasaa
- Water to soak the seeds
- Strawberry jello jelly cut into 1 cm cubes (about 1/4 cup)
- A generous scoop or two of Vanilla ice cream
Shortcut for Faluda Syrup
- About 2 cups of bottled Rose syrup
- 2 tsp of Vanilla extract
Faluda Drink (per person)
- Soak the Tukmaria seeds in about 1/2 cup of water for about 10 minutes until they form a "gel coating". Drain and set the seeds aside.
- If you like to create a layered effect, first pour the milk into a glass.
- Pour the faluda syrup (pour slowly to get the layered effect).
- Add the jello (optional) and the Tukmaria seeds.
- Add the ice cream on top and serve with a spoon and/or a straw (ice cream will sweeten the drink further, so do not add extra syrup).
Shortcut Falooda syrup
- For the shortcut version - just add the vanilla extract to the rose syrup and shake well to combine.
DAIRY FREE / VEGAN OPTION - To make this DAIRY FREE, you can use Soy milk (or other plant based milk option) with Vanilla Soy or Vanilla Coconut Vegan Ice cream!
FALOODA SYRUP - Make sure to add the vanilla extract in the rose syrup recipe.
I used these pictures to make my parents jealous. I also used them to get Mr K to come home from work early one day. Both strategies worked beautifully!
If you like an indulgent, dessert drink from time to time, you will absolutely love this! What’s great about this drink is that you can easily adjust the level of sweetness with the rose syrup (more rose syrup for more sweetness), and also customize it however you like with different toppings. All I want in mine is the syrup, milk, ice cream (or half and half) and soaked tukmaria (lots of it!). Mr K likes it with anything really. He loves the traditional version with vermicelli and jello (jelly), two additions that I don’t like too much.
No matter how you have this, it will always taste AMAZING! That creamy and floral taste of the rose syrup is so good, you can just have it with milk, without the ice cream, and maybe with some whipped cream on top! 🙂 Besides who would say no to such a pretty pink “milkshake”?? It’s a perfect summer dessert/drink.
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