Iranian ice cream is a childhood favorite of mine. In my area, it's not particularly easy to find ready-made, so I tend to resort to the "Persian Vanilla" flavor of gelato at the local Iranian market and cafe, Sam's, whenever I have a hankering for its distinct flavor.
But when my mom and I made some for a recent family party, I realized it's easy enough to make on your own. We used store-bought vanilla as the base to save time (and effort, considering how many people we were serving...). If I were to make this myself though, I'd probably make my own vanilla base, using David Lebovitz's Vanilla Ice cream recipe.
In addition to saffron, pistachios (preferably Iranian, of course), and cardamom, a key ingredient is rose water, which you can find in a local Iranian or Middle Eastern grocery store or buy online here. Some Iranians like to add cream to their ice cream at the end and then place it back into the freezer, so there are chunks of cream in the ice cream. We didn't do that this time, but it's definitely a delicious touch. Whether you want to use our short cut, or work from scratch, give Iranian ice cream a try next time you want a new type of flavor that is sweet, rich, and creamy.
Quick and Easy Iranian Ice Cream
serves 8 (1/2 cup servings)
1 quart Vanilla Ice Cream
a couple pinches saffron
3 tbsp milk
1/3 cup rose water
1 tsp ground cardamon (optional)
1/2 cup pistachios, finely chopped or ground
Boil the milk, either in a saucepan over the stove or in the microwave. When boiling, add the saffron and stir, until the milk becomes a very rich, deep yellow color.
Meanwhile, allow the ice cream to sit on the counter-top until it is partially melted and easy to stir. Feel free to use the microwave to speed this process along. For easier stirring, you can transfer it from its original container into a large bowl. When the milk cools, add it with the rest of the ingredients into the ice cream.
Return the ice cream to its original container or another air-tight container and return it to the freezer so it can harden again and not be too drippy when you serve. Serve it topped with any leftover pistachios and enjoy!