The weather has been cooling down and soon most people will be less inclined to eat cold desserts like ice cream (even though winter never stopped me from inhaling a pint in one sitting). So before it gets too frosty, I'd like to share the basic recipe for the heaven that is Persian ice cream, or "bastani."
Pronouce it out loud: BASS (as in sea bass), TAN (as in George Hamilton), KNEE.
BASTANI! There, now you're more cosmopolitan than ever!
To describe it simply- it is essentially vanilla (or french vanilla) ice cream blended with saffron and rosewater, with some frozen bits of cream broken in pieces and speckled throughout. It's often garnished with (unsalted) pistachios and eaten alone, in a cone, or sandwiched between waffle cookie wafers (see pic).
I'm not so crazy about the pistachios, personally, and they're certainly optional... it's really the little gems of frozen cream that makes the dessert especially divine.
Here is the best recipe I've found so far:
1 pt heavy (whipping) cream
2 Tbsp rose water
Pinch of saffron diluted in 1 Tbsp hot water, cooled
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 gallon vanilla ice cream, slightly softened
1/2 cup halved pistachio nuts
1. Beat cream with mixer until stiff peaks form when beaters are lifted. Spread 1/2 in. thick in a flat dish; freeze 2 hours or until hard.
2. Mix rose water, saffron water and cardamom in a cup; set aside.
3. Cut frozen cream in small pieces. Place in a bowl. Add ice cream, nuts and rose-water mixture; fold with a large spatula to mix. Return to freezer; freeze at least 2 hours before serving.
It's so good, I promise! And I will be adding more (family) recipes for Persian desserts as well. My mom (rules!) is such an amazing cook, but she abhors using measuring devices...there are seriously no measuring cups/spoons anywhere in her kitchen. Consequently, getting an exact recipe can be difficult, as repeating her "use the second line on your finger to know how much water to use" method doesn't translate well for everyone...but I'm working on transcribing them all, so hang in there. They're worth the wait!