Mastic and Rose Water Ice Cream with Pistachios- Bouza Ashta

'Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favourite things…'

For no particular reason, I have been silently singing this tune for a whole day.
I c a n n o t get rid of it.
It’s annoying; it’s a bit like a fly you try to shoo away, but comes back buzzing next to your ear. ‘these are a few of my favourite things
Brown paper packages tied up with string’?
Come to think of it, I do like the thought of presents, although not many come with string and brown paper packaging nowadays.
What about 'whiskers on kittens', how do I feel about those? Frankly I do not see why I should get excited about kittens’ whiskers at all, although a tiny playful cat is definitely on my list of favourites.
'Bright copper kettles' are beautiful, but oh gosh, so impractical! 'Raindrops on roses' are cliché, and 'warm woollen mittens' can be itchy, so, what are my few favourite things?


If I were to compile my own list and I would spare you the singing, I would start with Bouzet Ashta - Arabic ice cream with mastic.
When summer begins in Beirut, ice cream fridges pop up onto pavements, displaying assortments of ice creams and sorbets. Pistachio, apricot, rose water, melon and mulberry are but a few of the many flavours. My very favourite, is bouzet ashta, a milky ice cream made with mastic or miske and topped with pistachio.
Before the unrest in Syria, whenever we went to Damascus, we went to Bakdash, an institution of a shop, which served the best pistachio coated ice cream. Bakdash, which fed generations of Damascenes, makes its ice cream with salep – sahlab - and mastic, to give it an elastic texture and flavour it with rose water. Whenever you entered the shop, there were rows of men beating the ice cream with a wooden mortar while someone else was shaping the compact mixture and coating it with pistachios.
In his book Saha, Greg Malouf reports that one of the ice cream makers told him that 'Bakdash pounds its way through ten tonnes of ice cream every week' and that 'in the old days' they had to bring ice from the mountain, to cool the ice cream.  This gives me visions of truck loads of ice being deposited on the souk's pavement, while people milled about taking the sight for granted.



Flavouring the ice cream with mastic gives it a particularly fragrant taste.  A resin, which comes from the mastic tree or Pistacia lentiscus, mastic seeps through the tree bark and coagulates into drops, which are then collected. These are also known as the ‘tears of Chios’ because the shrub is cultivated on the Aegean island of Chios.
Mastic has been around for thousands of years; Herodotus chewed it; it appeared in De Materia Medica where it was believed to have therapeutic properties and the Ottomans used it in cosmetics. In Lebanon, people believe that it clears the breath and helps with digestion; in the kitchen it is used to flavour sweet and savoury dishes.
Mastic flavour is strong; it's a bit like biting into a pine tree. You have to be careful with the amount you use; a few ‘tears’ are enough.



Bouzet Ashta
Mastic ice cream

This home made ice cream is in fond memory of a happier more peaceful Damascus.

500 whole milk
100g double cream
100 g sugar
3 tablespoons corn flour
3 mastic pearls
1 tablespoon rose water
3 tablespoons pistachios, chopped


Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes
Serves 4


1. Place milk, cream and sugar in a deep pan over medium to low heat, stir to dilute.
2. To pulverise the mastic: freeze it for 15 minutes add a 1/4 teaspoon sugar and then crush it with the mo in a circular motion until the mixture looks like fine sand.
3. Add to the milk and cream mixture.
4. Have a balloon whisk ready; just before milk comes to a boil, add corn flour, while stirring vigorously with the whisk, to prevent lumps from forming.
5. Add rose water and stir.
6. Cook on medium to low heat for approximately 8 minutes; keep stirring. Stop when the mixture thickens.
7. Transfer to a glass bowl to cool before freezing, keeping the whisk handy.
8. Every few minutes give the mixture a stir with the whisk to stop a film from forming on the surface.
9. When the milk mixture is cooler, place it in the ice cream maker and churn until set.
10. Transfer to the freezer for half and hour before serving with chopped pistachios.




9 comments:

  1. When do you add the rose water?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for spotting this. Rose water comes after Step 4. I will correct the recipe now.

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. At the beginning together with the milk :-)

      Delete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I made it and the result was perfect, a touch of salty combined with sweet & creamy. Probably the best pistachio I have ever had Yumm-O I will make this again!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. 500 ml of whole milk? You didn't have a measurement. And how many cups (or fluid ounces) would 100 g of double cream be? American here/non-metric :-). Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  6. خدمات شركة تسليك مجاري بالدمام متاحة في اي وقت من اليوم عند اتصالكم بالشركة و يمكنك من خلال شركة ابراج دبي طلب خدمات شركة تنظيف بالدمام لتنظيف المنزل بالكامل

    ReplyDelete
  7. للحصول على خدمات شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام المتخصصة في السعودية قم بالتواصل مع شركة ابراج دبي ذات الخبرة في الخدمات المنزلية المتنوعة

    ReplyDelete