From Iran To India, How Falooda Became A Street Food Delight

One of the most cherished childhood memories of boomers and millennials in India is enjoying falooda on the streets. It is an ultimate delight that has its roots in Shiraz, Persia, Iran. Reportedly, this dish has been in existence since 400 BC, and many food critics believe that it is among the oldest desserts in the world.

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The original version of falooda was made using vermicelli, rose syrup, and sugar syrup. The modern-day falooda, especially the Indian version, is quite different from its ancestral variant. Iranians called it faloodeh which they used to savour during festivities and feasts. However, there are no documents that indicate the route of how this delicious delight travelled to India. 

Many historical documents point to the time when the Mughals annexed Iran, they brought this dish to the country. Jahangir is believed to be a fan of this Middle Eastern delight. Hence, its recipe found its way into royal kitchens and the hearts of many Indians. It is now a staple in many states, especially Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Bihar. 

Variations Of Falooda In India

There is hardly any dish in India that does not have variations across the country. While rose syrup rules in most variations. Vermicelli noodles and kulfi served with sugary syrup can leave you in a food coma. Another popular variation that exists in India is dry falooda in which the vendors do away with the vermicelli noodles. They serve flavoured milk with ice cream, dry fruits, and crushed nuts.

Parsi falooda seems like a spin-off of the original Iranian version. The drink has milk served with ice cream and basil leaves. It is topped with rose syrup for extra lip-smacking flavour. Jelly falooda is a fun version of a centuries-old delight that comes with jelly blocks. Some varieties of it also use vermicelli noodles along with ice cream and basil seeds. 

As India is bracing up for summer, you will find street vendors selling mango falooda comprising mango pulp, mango syrup, and chopped mangoes. You can also find rabri and phirni falooda being sold in many shops. It can only be found in the winter and spring seasons.

Variations Of Falooda Across The World

While it’s true that falooda is quite popular in India and Iran, there are other countries which have dishes that resemble the Persian delectable. Many English-speaking countries have bestowed this dish with the title of boba of South Asia.

Malaysian Cendol, which is popular in Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, is a variant of falooda, though not quite similar to the Indian version. They use jelly-like noodles and Pandan leaves to colour them green. The noodles are suspended in a creamy concoction of coconut milk and delicious toppings.

While Indians serve falooda in a glass, restaurants in the Philippines mix it with Halo Halo, a combination of coconut milk and ice cream. Another version exists in Mauritius, where the dish is called Alouda. It is consumed with strawberries, bubble tea, and vanilla syrup.