Shah Baghdadi Falooda and Lasani Falooda
Both Lasani and Shah Baghdadi Falooda shops are located side by side on Lake Road, Old Anarkali. As most of the restaurants on Anarkali’s famous food street do not serve desserts, diners often visit these falooda shops after dinner. On the other hand, many visitors just stop by in their vehicles to savor the different items that these shops offer. I visited both places on different days of the week and combined the two experiences for this review.
While trying to pick a famous falooda shop to review, Noor figured, why settle for one when he could have two. Follow his journey of indulgence through Anarkali Bazaar.
I visited Lasani Falooda in the early hours of twilight and ordered myself a plate of gajar ka halwa (soft crumble made from carrots and condensed milk) and a cup of Kashmiri green tea. Within a few minutes, they served the items I asked for. I had eaten the halwa before but the tea was novel for me. It was pink in color but called green tea. Apparently, while it is made with green leaves, the Kashmiri tea itself is cooked extensively in milk, achieving its toffee-pink hue. While the tea cooled to my preferred temperature, I started ingesting spoonsful of the fiery-red colored halwa. The soft, yummy chunks of carrot felt wonderful in my mouth. It was specifically tailored for sweet-toothed people like me. Those who enjoy spicy and citrus foods would find it overwhelmingly sweet, I think, or even unimpressive. But not I.
While I sat there, I looked around at the walls as usual. Unlike the restaurants in Gulberg, most of the places in the precincts of Anarkali display little or no art pieces. Instead, one usually comes across religious verses, poetry, and image. I observed the same pattern at the Lasani Falooda shop. After having finished the plate of halwa, I started drinking the green (pink) tea. I could taste the richness of well-cooked milk and minced almonds, a winning combination for anyone; simpleton or king. While I appreciated the taste of this tea on my tongue, I ventured guesses as to how it got its name.
On the following night, I visited Shah Baghdadi Falooda Shop and sat in its hall. It was clean and well-decorated, particularly in comparison to Lasani’s joint. I ordered kheer along with some more Kashmiri tea. Unfortunately, Shah Baghdadi’s grey-pink mixture had nothing on the heavenly concoction I was served the previous night. Ah well; you win some, you lose some.
Soon, a young waiter brought my kheer topped with ground almonds and a second cup of tea. The kheer was prepared very well and probably cooked for many hours as the rice had gelled completely into the pasty, milky mixture. It tasted delicious and undoubtedly was filled with more calories than I would care to count. However, the Kashmiri tea continued to disappoint and I decided to abandon it after a couple of sips.
I thought about asking a waiter or shop owner about the origins of Kashmiri tea, but I abandoned the idea thinking he would consider me simple-minded. It’s just that, being used to regular brown tea, I could not accustom myself to this new, varied flavor. It wasn’t my cup of tea (wink wink), but who’s to say it couldn’t be yours?
Situated on the margin of the Lake Road, both Lasani and Shah Baghdadi Falooda serve some of their guests on chairs and tables placed close to the road. At night, families sit at these outdoor tables, enjoy conversations over steaming halwa, or chilled falooda; indulging their sweet tooth to the fullest.