Although I don't celebrate Navroze, held each year on March 21st, there is one great childhood memory I have of this Persian New Year. It's food related... one of my favourite kind, and brings on a craving almost every single year.
I remember my family going to a Navroze dinner/dance somewhere in the outskirts of Montreal, where I grew up. I was on the dance floor after the dinner portion, and was eagerly anticipating dessert. I got excited when I saw the waiters carrying out trays of glasses all filled with pink, laying them out on several buffet tables. I had never seen anything like it before and they looked absolutely yummy! My curiosity turned into anticipation, and if I remember correctly, this was to be the first time I tried falooda. Falooda is a red rose syrup-based milk served with vanilla ice cream and optional sweet basil seeds and vermicelli.
This introduction to falooda was made back in the 70s when it was a very rare treat and hard to find. These days, you can enjoy this dessert served in many South Asian restaurants (in a variety of ways... some throw in the bells and whistles of many other ingredients like jello and dried fruit) and you can also buy falooda flavoured ice cream at grocery stores.
This year, my craving for falooda was exceptionally strong and kicked in a couple of weeks after Navroze. I was super busy at the time that I barely even stepped out of the house, so I tried to find ways to suppress it. I tried convincing myself to think of those extra calories and sugar, and to feel overwhelmed by the thought of buying and prepping the sweet basil seeds, vermicelli, and possible other ingredients (just check out some online recipes for falooda and you'll see what I mean - although I do like mine super simple so wouldn't have to buy much). At the end, it didn't work.
It turns out though, my lack of time and probable laziness worked in my favour as it forced me to find a means to satisfy my falooda craving with ingredients I found at home, all while doing it in a healthy way - one which took no time or much skill at all! I was able to play around with a few items I already had, including a gem of a staple in my cupboard - chia seeds. Chia seeds are of course known to be highly nutritious so I was off to a good start. Add that to a base of milk and rose-flavoured black tea (both also good for you), and Persian Rose Chia Pudding was born as a healthy and easy-to-make dessert.
Of course the girl in me had to find a way to make it pink, and I also took it one step further and set the pudding in something a bit different - yet very apropos - a tea cup. You can of course make it in any preferred dish, but why not get creative?
I definitely plan on making this pudding often throughout the year, and may even add a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream now and then for something more decadent - a perfect dessert for this Easter weekend perhaps!
Servings: 2 - 3
- 1 heaped tsp Surrey Rose Garden Black Tea
- Boiling water
- 3/4 -1 cup milk or oat milk
- 3 to 4 green cardamom pods, cracked or 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 level tsp sugar or honey, or to taste (optional)
- 10 to 12 drops red food colouring*
- 2-1/2 to 3 tbsp chia seeds
- Whipped cream (optional)
- Chopped pistachios (optional)
- Edible rose petals (optional)
*If preferred, you can look for vegan food colouring at health food stores.
1. Add the tea leaves and cracked cardamom pods to a cup. Boil water and pour over the tea, just enough to cover all the leaves. Steep for about 5 minutes.
2. Strain the tea into a measuring cup and add enough milk to make 1 cup of liquid. Stir in the vanilla, ground cardamom (if not using pods), and sugar or honey.
3. Start adding red food colouring. one drop at a time, until the desired shade is reached. Blend well.
4. Add the chia seeds and quickly stir in well. Once everything is blended, get 2 glasses, cups, or small bowls and evenly distribute the pudding.
5. Let the pudding rest for about 5 minutes and then give it one more gentle stir to remove potential clumps, as the chia seeds expand. Once well blended, cover and chill for 4-6 hours before serving.
Optional: When ready to serve, add some whipped cream, chopped pistachios, and/or edible rose petals.
Note: If adding whipped cream or ice cream, add less sugar to the pudding mixture.