Falooda (Bombay Crush)
Falooda or Bombay Crush is a sweet drink popular in South Asian countries and is made using the following ingredients: milk or ice cream, or both, rose syrup, vermicelli or sago (tapioca) or both, or neither, squishy subja or basil seeds and sometimes fresh cream. It’s popular in Indian communities the world over and mine was no exception, when I lived in Natal.
It sounds like a mouthful! And is. After a day of fasting, many Muslims break their fast with a glass of nourishing falooda. It was the wedding welcome drink of note when I was a teen. It’s also wonderfully cooling after a bite of fiery hot curry. Maybe without the vermicelli and tapioca, though.
It certainly isn’t an everyday beverage. I occasionally order one when I visit Indian restaurants back home or if I’ve heard the falooda is good. At this juncture I must add, while I believe you can swap a little ice cream or kulfi for milk or yoghurt, remove the vermicelli and that sort of thing, two essentials must remain.
- The Rose flavour. Yes, I do know of the less popular fig and mango flavours. But not on my watch. Rose makes this drink distintive. In this recipe it compliments the mild, sweet-tart white nectarines. Plums and raspberries would also go well.
- The Subja Seeds. I ordered a falooda at a popular, inexpensive Indian restaurant in Piermaritzburg in January.
“Oh, you mean Bombay Crush,” the waiter corrected me.
I mean whatever you call that sublime drink that I need to temper this very hot lamb mince roti roll, I thought.
It arrived. No spongy, squishy subja seeds suspended in baby-pink clouds. I lifted the glass up and took a look under. I poked the straw in every corner. Slurped half of it before I realised….the rose flavoured Nesquik was an impostor! I was inconsolable.
Moral: don’t mess with the subja