I’m currently reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Afghan-American author, Khaled Hosseini. I’ve had the book for a few years, but I hadn’t read it until now. I’d like to say that I put off reading the book because I wanted to spare myself the unavoidable whirlwind of emotion that is Hosseini’s writing. (Several years ago, I made the mistake of using my daily train commute to read The Kite Runner. I wept uncontrollably, interrupted only by the sound of the train making its final stop at Central Station. I didn’t make any friends on that train).
But that wasn’t the reason. The truth is that I simply hadn’t gotten around to reading his second book. Well, I’m glad I did, and so far, the book doesn’t disappoint. Without giving too much away (although it was published seven years ago, so whatever), Hosseini’s lead character, Mariam, is a teenager from rural Afghanistan, who is married off to an old widower from Kabul. The marriage is arranged by Mariam’s stepmothers. (If you think Cinderella had it bad, poor Mariam has three conniving stepmothers). So Mariam moves to Kabul with her new husband, Rasheed, and she starts to adjust to city life. One day, while walking together through the streets of Kabul, Rasheed buys Mariam a bowl of ice cream. But this was no ordinary ice cream. Hosseini writes:
It was the first time she’d eaten ice cream and Mariam never imagined that such tricks could be played on a palate. She devoured the entire bowl, the crushed-pistachio topping, the tiny rice noodles at the bottom. She marveled at the bewitching texture, the lapping sweetness of it.
Here, Hosseini describes the first time Mariam tries faloodeh (“the tiny rice noodles at the bottom”) with pistachio ice cream.
I’ve never forgotten the first time I tried faloodeh and ice cream. Like Mariam, I was in my early teens. Unlike Mariam, I was in Shiraz with my loving parents, on a family holiday. The faloodeh in Shiraz is ah-mazing. Especially in summer. The sweet, crisp noodles are immersed in a mouth-watering slush of crushed ice and rosewater, and topped with a squeeze of lime or pomegranate juice. Locals slurp it up on its own or with a side of saffron ice cream. (Oof. Excuse me while I scull a glass of cold water and throw a bucket of ice over my head, before I attempt to finish this post.)
Since then I have had faloodeh only a handful of times, at Persian restaurants in and around Sydney. It never crossed my mind that I could make the dessert at home. This summer I finally decided to make a homemade version of faloodeh. It was easy and tasted great. Did I mention it’s also dairy- and gluten-free? So, make a batch today. Keep it in the freezer and serve in bowls for family and friends on a hot and sunny day. As for me, I’ll be on the next train, this time handing out bowls of faloodeh instead of embarrassingly crying into the pages of a good book.
Rosewater & lime noodle sorbet (Faloodeh)
Recipe adapted from SBS Food
50g rice noodles or vermicelli
150g caster sugar
5tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1. Cook noodles as per packet directions. Drain noodles and cool in fridge for half an hour, stirring occasionally.
2. Place two cups water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir mixture until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add rosewater.
4. Remove noodles from fridge and roughly chop into 3-4cm pieces. Combine noodles, syrup and lime juice in a shallow glass baking dish. Place in freezer for one hour.
5. Remove from freezer and stir mixture with a fork. Return to freezer for another hour, shave the mixture with a fork, then return to freezer once more. Leave overnight.
6. Once ready to serve, remove the mixture from the freezer and allow it to thaw slightly. Crush the icy mixture and scoop into bowls or cups. Squeeze extra lime juice on top. Slurp it up before the crushed ice melts away!