Dera, located in Jackson Heights, and the tastiest Pakistani restaurant I’ve ever been to, serves a most wonderful dessert: falooda kulfi. It comes, soup-style, in a large bowl and is best shared by two people who know each other quite well (as I believe two people sharing soup should).
Falooda is a liquidy dessert, often a sweet beverage, that comes from South Asia. From what I can surmise, Dera’s has vermicelli noodles, milk, ice shards, tulsi (basil) seeds, rose syrup, green food coloring, and both frozen and room temp kulfi. Kulfi is a traditional South Asian ice cream made from evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream that is thickened with cornstarch. Observe:
This dessert is a real project to eat, and it’s got several different textures, so it’s interactive good times! The frozen kulfi comes on a popsicle stick that you scrape away at with your spoon. It’s so cold that it starts to freeze the nearby noodles as you eat, turning them from squirmy wormies to stiff wormies. The room temp kulfi is smooth, creamy, and sweet, while the basil seeds add a nice little crunch. The ice shards do get a little annoying after awhile as some of them are too big to want to bite down on, so you end up trying to avoid them to slurp up the soup. As all of the ingredients melt together, the rose syrup turns the soup a nice Pepto-Bismol shade of pink, which is dotted with the green food coloring and yellow kulfi. It is a delicious, impressionist-style masterpiece!Dera 7209 Broadway
New York, NY 11372
Imagine after finishing a wonderful meal of spicy Szechuan food at an excellent restaurant in Flushing, Queens, you are presented with a bowl of something that appears to be lentil soup. You didn’t ask for it, but there it is, sitting in front of you. Your dining companions have some, too, and you shoot questioning looks at each other. Did the waiter bring you someone else’s order? Isn’t everyone stuffed to the point where a bowl of soup is really not welcome so much as a nap? Did the waiter just mumble something about green beans? You take your spoon, swirl it around, and bring some soup up for closer inspection. There are stock-like meaty-looking particles as well as lentil or barley-ish bits floating in a green and brown “broth.” A sniff reveals nothing.
A slurp and you realize that you’ve got a sweet (dessert?) soup that doesn’t taste like much other than lentil soup with a lot of sugar in it. There’s no meat flavor, just bland sweetness. Later research reveals that, as an antidote to the extreme spiciness of the cuisine, Szechuan cooks make this soup from green (or mung) beans, which are believed to cool and soothe the palate. Cooling? Yes. Tasty? Meh. Neat-o? Definitely.