Faloodeh: Persian Rose Water and Rhubarb Ice Milk

On July 20, I’m teaching a Persian cooking class at the Natural Gourmet Institute. The upcoming class has inspired me to revisit my stable of Persian recipes, and give them a new twist. With the warm weather coming on, I wanted to include faloodeh on the menu, a frozen dessert that traditionally combines noodles — yes, noodles! — and lime sorbet.

Cooked rice noodles, cut into 1-inch lengths

Faloodeh is an ancient dessert, dating back to 400 BC. According to wikipedia, in order to make the dessert, ice was brought down from high mountaintops and stored in icehouses.

Rhubarb cooked with sugar

As you may know from my recent post on rhubarb, I’m a big fan of this vegetable-cum-fruit. To turn the normally white faloodeh a vibrant pink, I used rhubarb as the base. Rhubarb, called rivas in the Persian language Farsi, is a common ingredient in Persian cooking, and is used in everything from savory meat stews to beverages to desserts, so including it in the recipe isn’t much of a stretch. Another change I made was to make the dessert a sherbet instead of a sorbet by including milk, to counter the sourness of rhubarb and lime with the richness of dairy fat. For a lighter dish that’s lower in fat and still full of flavor, you may use water in place of the milk called for in this recipe.

Stirring noodles into pureed rhubarb and milk

The only other change I’ve made to the dish is to reduce the ratio of noodles to sorbet; I love the chewy noodles contrasted with ice, but I prefer them as an accent rather than a main ingredient. If you like, double the amount of noodles in the recipe and leave the other measurements as is. Try making this cooling dessert on a hot day, garnished with a few crunchy pistachios. Top it off as the Persians do, with some fresh lime juice, or sour cherry syrup. If you can’t find the cherry syrup, the more common pomegranate syrup makes a great stand-in.

Recipe: Rose Water and Rhubarb Faloodeh

Serves 6-8

1 ounce rice noodles

3 cups rhubarb, coarsely chopped

¼ cup water

1 cup evaporated cane juice

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon rose water

2 cups milk

¼ cup lime juice

Optional garnishes: Pistachios, sour cherry syrup, lime juice

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and boil for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Cut the noodles into 1-inch lengths, and set aside.

Place the rhubarb in a saucepan with the water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the rhubarb is completely soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and cool completely.

Pour the rhubarb into a blender. Add the rose water, milk, and lime juice, and blend until smooth. Add the rice noodles and rhubarb to a large bowl and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish and place it in the freezer, uncovered.

Stir the faloodeh after 2 hours to prevent it from freezing into a solid mass. Freeze and stir again after 2 hours. Repeat after an additional 2 hours if necessary. Within a total of 4-6 hours, the faloodeh will have the consistency of ice milk. When the faloodeh reaches the desired consistency, rake with a fork and serve either plain, or topped with pistachios, a spoonful of sour cherry syrup, or a dash of lime juice. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 week.

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