Faloodeh: Persian Rosewater and Lemon Sorbet
Summer is near and nothing is better than a little bowl of faloodeh, a curious Persian sorbet, on a warm summer afternoon. Noodles folded into this sorbet give it a very unusual texture because they become very crunchy when frozen.
Faloodeh (also spelled faludeh) is traditionally flavoured with rosewater. At the time of serving freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice or a light fruit syrup is added for more flavour.
My easy recipe deviates a bit from the traditional recipe. I use much less sugar and make the sorbet with lemon juice and zest, then delicately flavour it with rosewater. Raspberries are not commercially grown in Iran but I find them a great substitute for the sour cherries (albaloo) that is sometimes used to make the fruit syrup.
In Iran the noodles for faloodeh are made fresh from potato starch but well-cooked vermicelli-like oriental rice noodles make life so much easier and taste exactly the same.
You can see how shop-bought cooked rice noodles look like in the picture below. I found these in the chilled section of my local supermarket. But I don’t use them as they are. They will get too hard when frozen so I boil them for a few minutes again until they are really soft, almost mushy. If you choose to use dry rice noodles make sure you cook them very well. You want your noodles to look like the first picture below. In the second one you can see how they look when frozen.
If I’ve tempted you enough to make this unique dessert you’ll need to prepare your sorbet first. I sometimes make the sorbet the day before and freeze it overnight.
The ingredients for this recipe are quite easy to find everywhere. You can buy Iranian rosewater from many Persian or Middle Eastern groceries. Just a word of caution: Middle Eastern rosewater is different from rose essence normally found in UK supermarkets. Rose essence is very very strong and should be used by the drop. If you are using rose essence start with one drop, taste and add more if you wish.
In Iran faloodeh is sometimes served along with Persian ice cream (bastani). Check out my Persian Rose and Vanilla Ice Cream recipe if you haven’t already. Regular bastani is cream or yellow (if flavoured with saffron) so omit the colouring and sugared rose petals if you want to serve it with faloodeh. To serve put faloodeh (without the raspberry syrup) in a bowl and top with scoops of bastani.
Ingredients for 4-6 servings:
- 250g cooked very thin rice noodles (rice vermicelli)
- 300g sugar
- 500ml water
- Juice and finely grated zest of one unwaxed lemon
- 1 1/2 tbsp rosewater
- 100g fresh or frozen raspberries
- 1 1/2 tbsp sugar for the berries
Instruction for making the sorbet, noodles and syrup:
- Put half the water and all of the sugar (300g) in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir well until all sugar is dissolved. Add the rest of the water (as cold as possible), lemon juice, finely grated lemon zest and rosewater or essence (see above) and mix. Pour into a dish and freeze for six hours or overnight. Alternatively, use an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar over the berries and give it a stir. Let stand in the fridge. Give it another stir a while later to help release the juices from the berries. That’s all you need to do to make the syrup.
- An hour before serving take the sorbet out of the freezer. Mix well with a fork to break any ice crystals and return to the freezer. If you have a blender you can do this in the blender. A hand blender can also be used to give the sorbet a very soft texture.
- Bring 2 litres of water to the boil in a saucepan. Drop in the cooked noodles and cook over medium heat for four minutes or until very soft. Drain in a colander or sieve and rinse well under running cold water. Drain again and refrigerate.
- When ready to serve put a large bowl out and fill with 1/2 water and 1/2 crushed ice (or about 3 litres of water chilled for a couple of hours in the freezer). Take the sorbet out of the freezer and allow to soften. Put the noodles in the icy water and stir around. The noodles will begin to freeze and turn very white and crunchy. Drain well when they are completely white and immediately fold them into the softened sorbet.
- Dish up the faludeh and pour over a little syrup from the raspberries. Garnish with a whole berry and serve with more berries and syrup. You can freeze faloodeh in a shallow lidded dish and use it later but you will need to allow it to soften for at least 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!