For Shabam Russo, it was the nostalgia of her childhood in Mumbai and joy of her life in London that were the inspiration behind the now well-known Rose Falooda Cake – among the finalists of the Platinum Pudding Competition in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations this month.
The baking enthusiast has been carrying on that summer of fun over the weekend with a special free Jubilee Family Concert and picnic in east London featuring her cakes.
"The Rose Falooda Cake is a celebration of the love affair between . Made with the precious saffron, rose, and gold leaf, it is truly a dessert fit for royalty," Russo tells iGlobal.
And, it was this love affair between two cultures that made Russo transform it into an English royal dessert.
MORE LIKE THIS…
To celebrate Her Majesty the , the Platinum Pudding Competition attracted a total of 5,000 contestants from across the UK.
Russo's Rose Falooda cake adorned with fresh and edible flower petals and herbs was declared one of the top five celebratory puddings that made the cut with the judges and will go on to make a lasting impact on UK cuisine. Talking about the win, an emotional Russo struggles to find ways to express her happiness.
"I'm speechless. I cannot find the right words to express what it means to be a part of making history on such a momentous occasion. I feel immense gratitude and pride and to be told by Chef Roger Pizey that my dream did come true and that my cake was worthy of the Queens Platinum Jubilee was a very emotional moment for me," she said.
MORE LIKE THIS…
Russo lives in north London with her Italian husband, Dr Mario Luca Russo, and works part time at her husband’s clinic. They have two children – daughter India, named to reflect her Mumbai birth, and son Giorgio, named after his father’s favourite designer.
The young professional is in awe of the Queen for her pragmatism, her steadfastness, her feminism, and her dedication and considers the monarch her role model.
"I think she's been incredible, perhaps even more than any of the world leaders today. She has embraced a multiracial, multicultural society, which is what Britain is today, and I wanted my cake to reflect that as well as the ," she said.
"Like so many people, the pandemic really brought me down, and I just felt it very hard to bounce back after the pandemic. I think this news just brought me back to life, really," she added.
Falooda, from the , is a popular accompaniment for a chilled kulfi. The Great British Bake-Off winner of 2018, Rahul Mandal, was one of the judges of the competition and, perhaps because of his , his appreciation meant a lot to Russo.
"He was fascinated at how I was going to create it like a cake – so I really wanted him to be impressed with the cake I created and to understand how I've transformed a street dessert into a cake fit for The Queen,” she recalls.
Surely it must have delighted Russo when Mandal, tasting her creation, exclaimed, "I can taste the falooda in the cake! That's incredible."
MORE LIKE THIS…
Russo’s mission was to demonstrate a rather easy recipe and method to create a magnificent cake as she hopes everyone would try it and get a taste of India, along with celebrating the longest-reigning British monarch of all time.
"I think many people like me are afraid to fail, so they're afraid to try things. And I think if you don't try something, you've already failed. It's so important you grab the opportunities when they come by, so you just have to be fearless," she declares.