Bastani Sonnati is a classic Persian saffron ice cream with delectable flavors of rosewater and cardamom. This is an easy no churn ice cream that doesn't require an ice cream maker.
It's common to use saffron in Persian desserts; some of our favorite desserts made with saffron are Persian halva pudding, sholeh zard (saffron rice pudding) and Persian love cake. This Persian saffron ice cream called bastani sonnati is another popular Persian dessert that's absolutely delightful and delicious. Follow along to see how I make this classic Persian delicacy at home.
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Persian Saffron Ice Cream
It's been said that ice cream was born in the Persian Empire around 500 BC in the form of ice combined with flavors as a summertime treat. So looks like our people have been into this sweet frozen treat for quite some time now. Saffron ice cream is the most traditional ice cream in Iran and is loved by millions around the world.
Bastani sonnati, literally meaning traditional ice cream is probably the oldest type of ice cream in Iran and you can find it in every corner of every city, either sandwiched between two wafers or served in a cup, sometimes alongside faloodeh (Persian lime rose granita). Packed with pistachios, this ice cream is luscious, golden and even a little luxurious to the western eye. Trust me , the flavor is out of this world!
Ingredients To Make Saffron Ice Cream
- Heavy whipping cream: The base of this ice cream is heavy whipping cream. Make sure it's completely cold before you start making the recipe.
- Sweetened condensed milk: Since this is a no churn ice cream recipe, we're using a can of sweetened condensed milk to make it sweet and give it the smooth texture.
- Saffron: Saffron is a unique spice that's made from stigmas of saffron flower. Each flower has between 10 and 12 stigmas meaning that it takes about 75000 saffron flowers to produce one pound of saffron - which explains why it's one of the most expensive spices in the world. The main color and flavor of bastani sonnati comes from saffron. Since saffron is an expensive spice, it's important to know how to use it properly. I have written a complete post about saffron and how to use it.
- Rosewater: The classic combination of rosewater and saffron can be found in many Persian desserts. You can find rosewater in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean shops.
- Cardamom: You need a small amount of ground cardamom. Whole cardamom pods won't work in this recipe.
- Pistachios: Chopped pistachios are a must in bastani sonnati. Make sure to use raw unsalted pistachios.
How To Make Persian Saffron Ice Cream (Bastani Sonnati)
- Grind the saffron threads using a small pestle and mortar. Sprinkle the ground saffron on 2-3 cubes of ice in a small cup or bowl and let it melt at room temperature. This will be your bloomed saffron.
- Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a bowl and add in the rosewater, cardamom and all of the bloomed saffron. Mix using a spoon and set it aside.
- Whip the heavy whipping cream using an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
- Fold the saffron sweetened condensed milk into the whipped cream and very gently. Fold in chopped pistachios as well.
- Transfer the ice cream to a clean and dry 9x5 loaf pan, top with more chopped pistachios if desired and and freeze for at least 8 hours.
- Let the frozen ice cream sit at room temperature for 2-4 minutes before serving it.
Tips To Make Persian Saffron Ice Cream
- Don't skip the essentials: Rosewater and pistachio are both essential Iranian ingredients. Adding these two ingredients to the ice cream gives it so much flavor. Rosewater is quite powerful so make sure not to add too much, otherwise it will overpower the other flavors. The addition of pistachios give the ice cream a nice crunch in every spoonful so please don't skip it.
- Whip it well: It's important that the heavy cream reaches stiff peaks and not soft peaks for the ice cream to set well and have the right texture.
- Saffron: Quality saffron makes all the difference and a little bit of goes a long way if bloomed the right way. Follow the recipe to make sure you're using the precious saffron properly.
You can keep This Persian ice cream in the freezer for up to a week in the same pan you made it in. Make sure to cover it with a plastic wrap so it doesn't get frosty on top. If the ice cream is too hard to scoop, let it sit on the counter for a few minutes before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Saffron has a bright flavor and a little bit of it goes a long way therefore you need to make sure not to overuse it when cooking. Saffron is pungent, floral, and hard to describe. It's a spice that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Some of the popular savory dishes made with saffron are Persian saffron rice, Persian saffron chicken and paella. As noted, saffron can also be used in sweet recipes such as a saffron milkshake.
The base ingredients of this Persian ice cream recipe are heavy whipping cream and sweetened condensed milk and unfortunately nondairy substitutes won't work.
You need to grind the saffron using a pestle and mortar, and then bloom it on ice for maximum flavor and color. Adding the saffron threads directly to the ice cream won't give the desired color and flavor.
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Bastani Sonnati Persian Saffron Ice Cream
- ½ tsp saffron threads
- ice cubes
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk 14 oz.
- 1 tablespoon rosewater
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 cups heavy cream
- ½ cup raw unsalted pistachios chopped
- Grind the saffron using a small pestle and mortar. Sprinkle it over 2-3 ice cubes in a small bowl and leave it at room temperature to melt. This will be your bloomed saffron.
- In a bowl, mix the sweetened condensed milk with bloomed saffron, rosewater and ground cardamom using a spoon. Set aside.
- Whip the cold heavy cream in a large bowl using an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
- Using a spatula, gently fold in the sweetened condensed milk mixture.
- Fold in the chopped pistachios gently. You can use a spatula for this step.
- Transfer the ice cream to a 9x5 loaf pan and top with more pistachios if desired. Cover with a plastic wrap and freeze for 8 hours.
- To serve, let the saffron ice cream sit at room temperature for 2 to 4 minutes. Scoop out Persian saffron ice cream and serve.
- Dairy free heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk won't work for this recipe.
- Store the leftovers in the same container (covered with a plastic wrap) or in a freezer safe container for up to a week.