Persian ice cream is the most exotic and luxurious ice cream I have ever tasted. Yes, I am Persian myself and a bit biased. But nevertheless – I promise – once you have tried Persian ice cream once, you will be addicted! Persian ice cream (or Bastani in Farsi) is a creamy ice cream that includes pistachio nuts, saffron, rose water and flakes of frozen clotted cream. The combination of these ingredients is what gives the Persian ice cream its delicious exotic taste. Persian ice cream is the caviar among the ice creams. It is simply amazing! In this article I will explain how you can make some for yourself! :)

But what exactly is Persian ice cream?

A quick review of the history…
According to history Persians were the first people to make iced foods - that might explain why they taste so good!

Faloodeh, is also known as Faluda and Paloodeh

Faloodeh, is also known as Faluda and Paloodeh

In 400 BC they invented a sorbet delight made from vermicelli (a type of pasta) and rose water. Today this is known as Faloodeh (also known as Faluda and Paloodeh) and usually contains rose water, lime, rice vermicelli noodles and Iranian cherry syrup. Faloodeh was discovered almost by accident, when people dropped syrups in to the snow and realized what a refreshing treat it created. It is still popular today in Iran and countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistani and India.

Sometime after the sorbet was invented the Persians also learned that freezing dairy was an equally delicious delicacy. They liked the rose water flavor so much that this was carried over and became a key part of the new creamy recipe.

The Persian Saffron ice cream: Bastani
Persian ice cream is not too dissimilar to other common forms of ice cream. It is derived from milk and dairy that is heated before adding the other specialized ingredients that give it its uniquely exotic flavor.  The dairy is expertly mixed with saffron, rosewater, frozen clotted cream, and saleb (natural binder extracted from orchid). It is then served topped with pistachio nuts and is traditionally accompanied by two crispy waffles in an "ice cream sandwich" (Bastani Nooni).  If only all sandwiches were made of ice cream!

Where can I get Persian ice cream?

As the name suggests Persian ice cream is predominantly found in its native Iran, where you can buy it from stores and order it from eateries where it might be made fresh. You can also find it in neighboring countries and across the world, though it might not always be 100% authentic overseas. The real deal must be made with genuine saffron and the churning process must take a long time. If you are in the West, your best bet is to seek out a specialized Persian store, restaurant or ice cream parlor if you want to give it a try.

Persian ice cream - Also known as Bastani Sonati or Bastani Zafarani

Persian ice cream - Also known as Bastani Sonati or Bastani Zafarani

Some of the most popular brands available in the West include:

  • Saffron & Rose: A family run business which distributes their ice cream in the US.
  • Laleh: Found in Iran, Turkey and other countries. Sometimes imported to the West.
  • Mashti Malone / Mehregn Ice Cream: Based out of California, sold in some stores and parlors.
  • Bastan Tehran: Based in the Netherlands and Germany, sold in europe.

The Easy Persian Ice Cream Recipe at home

If however you cannot find any Persian ice cream in the store or there isn't a restaurant near you, there's always the option to make it yourself - though we advise a little shortcut because making real Persian ice cream is very difficult. As a matter of fact, it is one the most expensive and – unlike Italian ice cream –is very labor intensive.  According to the traditional recipe one must manually stir the ice cream for several hours to give it its luxurious creamy structure. Today I will teach you the easy way! :) 

Step 1: Required ingredients:
Regular vanilla ice cream, a packet of saffron, a bottle of rose water, half a mug of hot water, a tablespoon & teaspoon, small bowl, and a large bowl.

Got everything you need? Then let's get started!

Step 2: Fill a large bowl with the vanilla ice cream and leave it for 10 minutes so it's started to melt and is easy to stir. Don’t leave it too long however because if it's fully melted it will take longer to re-freeze!  

Step 3: Put a 4th of a teaspoon of saffron in to the small bowl, and crush it in to a powder with the back of the teaspoon. It's surprising how fun this is! Then take a tablespoon of hot water and pour it on to the saffron, mixing it until the dye comes out - a lovely yellow color.

Step 4: Pour this liquid in to the ice cream and stir well until the dye is evenly mixed throughout. You don't want one corner full of saffron and the other just regular ice cream. Unless of course you're making your own half and half creation!

Step 5: Pour one teaspoon of rose water in to the ice cream and continue to stir. If you're naughty, pour another spoon and drink it yourself.

Step 6: Place the finished mixture in to the freezer and stand guard for 6 hours so it can harden without anyone sneaking a peak!

Step 7: When the 6 hours are up, open the freezer and bask in the glory of your ice cream making skills.

Serve it as you would regular ice cream, with a couple of scoops each (or 5, nobody is stopping you!) You can also sprinkle on a few extra bits of saffron and drop some pistachio nuts on to the top for added flavor and display, just like the pros.

Step 8: If you really want to be authentic you can also serve it alongside two crispy waffles, called "Bastani-e nooni" so you can get the full ice cream sandwich experience.

The only thing left to say is yum! I told you it would taste fantastic.

Of course while using premade vanilla ice cream will give you a hint of what traditional Bastani Sonnati tastes like, there is no substitute for real handmade Persian ice cream.