I love experiencing how different people from different regions enjoy their meals. It opens up your mind to a lot more and that is how you grow. When I go to a new place, I try as much as possible to try out new things for that very reason. Lamu was the perfect place for an adventurous culinary experience.
I noticed that the people of Lamu like to incorporate as many flavors as possible. You will find something savory, something sweet, something a bit tart and something a bit spicy. They make their banquets a whole experience. Our Swahili cooking class reflected exactly that. Now that we made something savory, it was time to delve into the sweet. Faluda is a jelly-like dessert with soft floral notes and mild nutty taste. And guess what, it is so easy to make!!!!
1 liter of milk
1/2 a cup of sugar
Agar Agar 1/2 a cup
1 tablespoon of freshly ground cardamom seeds
Almonds and Raisins for garnish
In a bowl, Put your agar agar in a bowl with some water and allow it to soften. The set aside.
#KKTip : Agar Agar is a gelatin substance which when mixed with any other liquid produces the jelly like texture. Gelatin comes in many forms and agar agar is one of many. In Nairobi, you can get gelatin powder in Walibhai Karim along Biashara street. It fulfills the same purpose
In a pot, add your sugar and ground cardamom seeds. Once the milk has warmed slightly, add the liquefied agar agra and mix it in for about a minute or two. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
For a more intense cardamom flavor, toast them slightly on an ungreased pan. Once they become fragrant, proceed to crush them. It may seem like a small step, but a necessary one and makes a huge difference. This brings out and intensifies their flavor a great deal.
Pour the milk in a jug and add your coloring. Ummu used a rose coloring, which added the pink color, floral taste and aroma. I loved that flavor!
Mix it in then pour these into a bowl and allow to cool.
#KKTwist: For color, you can use any you want. I personally would still go with pink so Raspberry colorant would be my choice. For aroma or maybe even more flavor, I would add orange extract or vanilla extract (not essence).
You can put this is the fridge to hasten the solidifying process. Since Lamu is one easy going town, we went turned to the air to get the solidifying going. It took quite sometime, but the solidifying still its is a rapid process. Plus, being at the coast, the coolness of a faluda solidified in the fridge would be very much welcome :))
After that, Ummu garnished with some skinned almonds and some raisins and decorated the tray with some flowers <3 Can you see how the Lamu people take presentation seriously?!! I loved that! We eat with our eyes first always!
In the picture above and the one below, you can almost feel the jelly texture of the faluda by looking at the surface. The agar agar worked its magic!
#KKTwist: While eating, I enjoyed the contrast between the texture of the crunchy nuts and the soft faluda. But once the garnish was done, only the soft faluda was left and I kept adding more almonds for some textural difference. In addition to garnishing with the nuts, I would incorporate some into the faluda so that each bite has some textural contrast from the first bite to the last. In addition to the skinned almonds I loves, I would probably add pistachios and finely chopped dried mango rind.
After that, it was time to dig right in!!! We made this at the Sea Suq restaurant which is right at the sea front. Sitting down to enjoy our own creation, overlooking the sea and enjoying the breeze and great conversation was very much worth it. Incase you missed the first dish we made during our swahili cooking class, Makaki ya Kulisha aka Swahili Pizza, please do sheck it out HERE.
I hope you recreate faluda at home and enjoy it just as much as we did.