Whatever the weather’s up to, Persian food writer Maryam Sinaiee has just the thing to haul us back to summer. And yes you read right, SUGAR-COATED ROSE PETALS. Now, if you’ll excuse us…
Classic Persian ice cream (bastani) is always flavoured with rosewater or rosewater and saffron but it is never coloured pink. I sometimes make it pink if I’m not using saffron because the pink colour reminds me of roses.
One thing I have always loved about Persian ice cream is the chunks of frozen unsweetened heavy cream that speck the ice cream and melt so gently on the tongue. Clotted cream works best but double cream will also work nicely.
Making bastani is incredibly easy if you use shop-bought custard like I did. It cuts the preparation time and works really well if you use good quality vanilla custard.
A word of caution about rosewater and rose essence, however. They are very different. Rose essence is much stronger. If you are using rose essence add it drop by drop and taste after each addition. You want a delicate rose flower scent, not edible perfume!
Ingredients (serves four)
400ml double (heavy) cream, chilled well in the freezer but not frozen
200g icing sugar
1½ tbsp rosewater or a few drops of edible rose essence
1 tbsp reduced juice from cooking beets or a few drops of natural red food colouring
300ml good quality vanilla custard, chilled well but not frozen
A few slivers of unsalted pistachios and rose petals to garnish
Lay a medium-sized zip-bag or freezer bag in a flat dish and pour 100ml of the cream into it. Close the top and spread the cream to a thickness of about one millimetre. Put in the freezer.
Whip the chilled cream until soft peaks form. Add the icing sugar by spoonfuls and whip after each addition. Add the rosewater mixed with a tablespoon of reduced juice from cooking beets in a thin stream and blend well.
Gently fold the whipped cream into the custard and mix thoroughly. The better chilled your custard and cream, the sooner the ice cream will set. Pour into a covered dish and freeze for an hour. Whip with a fork or hand blender. Repeat after freezing for another hour.
Take the frozen layer of cream out of the freezer and cut the bag open. Chop the frozen cream with a knife into penny sized pieces and fold into the ice cream. Return the ice cream to the freezer and freeze until set.
Note: If you have an ice cream maker follow the manufacturer’s instructions after making the base of the ice cream and fold the little chunks of cream in before transferring the ice cream to the freezer.
To make scented sugar-coated fresh rose petals:
Pick a rose bloom that has just opened. Pull the petals apart and rinse under cold water. Spread on kitchen paper to dry. Meanwhile make a heavy syrup with 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water. Boil until the syrup is almost thick and lightly coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and add one tablespoon of rosewater. Mix well.
Use chopsticks to drop the rose petals in the syrup and coat them well on both sides. Then dredge the petals one by one in fine sugar. Put the petals on a mesh sieve to air dry for as long as a day. Use to decorate the ice cream.
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Maryam Sinaiee is an Iranian political analyst and passionate home cook. Her recipes can be found here: www.thepersianfusion.com