The Legendary Cuisine of Persia
An ice-cream maker or simply a freezer and some patience are all that are needed to make this wonderful ice cream. Of all the ices, sa’labi ice cream, or that made with sa’lab (salep, a white powder from the Orchis mascularis) is the best known. This ice cream, sprinkled with pistachios and laced with rosewater, was first produced commercially in Tehran some forty years ago by a certain Akbar Mashadi. His ice cream was so delicious that everyone aspired to make their own ice cream like his. Today, all such ices are known simply as ‘Akbar Mashadi’.
I was given this recipe by my sister-in-law, Batul. It is not difficult to make, though salep can be hard to find (and it is not really possible to make without salep). Some people add 50g/2 oz small chips of frozen double cream about five minutes before the freezing time is finished instead of salep, but it does not give the same elastic and satiny consistency that is the hallmark of this ice cream.
Salep is occasionally available in Iranian or Middle Eastern shops in the West, and readymade Persian ice cream can always be found in Iranian stores. It is delicious on its own, or it may be served with sweet noodles (see following recipe).
Turn on the ice-cream maker to chill. And put a bowl in the freezer to chill.
Beat the milk, sugar and rosewater together. While beating, sprinkle in the powdered salep until the sugar and salep are completely dissolved. If desired, stir in the liquid saffron at this stage.
Pour into the ice-cream maker and freeze, turning for 25 minutes (or according to instructions). If wished, chop the frozen double cream into small pieces and add to the ice cream five minutes before the end of the freezing.
When softly firm, pile the ice cream into the chilled bowl and keep covered in the freezer. Garnish with chopped pistachios.