Have you ever tried Persian Ice Cream? It's a delicious saffron and rose water ice cream filled with pistachios, called Bastani Sonnati. Here I show you an easy “cheats” way to make it at home without an ice cream churner or fancy equipment!
Bastani Sonnati takes me back to childhood! It’s an Iranian ice cream which is golden and made with saffron, rosewater and pistachios of course! If you've tried any Persian recipes, you know these are some of our most used ingredients.
Here I’ve made a cheats version which anyone can make at home without needing an ice cream maker. Forget the ice cream churning and make this easy version with only 5 ingredients! Impress your guests with the perfect Persian Saffron Ice cream as a dinner party dessert that's so full of flavor they will be begging for the recipe!
A popular way Persians eat the saffron ice cream in Iran is placing it in between two round thin wafers to make a Persian ice cream sandwich…AHHH YUM! Even my Italian husband was skeptical when he heard me making saffron ice cream and he is now hooked and prefers it over a gelato (don't tell his family haha).
The name Bastani Sonati translates in farsi language to traditional (sonnati) ice cream (bastani). Some more Persian recipes I’ve shared which use saffron are my Persian Rice with Crispy Tahdig and my Persian Eggplant Dip.
Traditionally in Iran, its customary to add salep or (sahlab) which is an extract from a wild orchid. It thickens the consistency, in a similar way that cornstarch does, and creates a gum like texture making the saffron ice cream sticky and elastic but in the best way!
Table of Contents
Why you'll love this recipe
- It's so easy to make! With this cheats version, you can make it in no time!
- No need for an ice cream maker as we are using store bought vanilla ice cream as the base
- Crazy delicious! With a unique blend of saffron, rose water and pistachios, its a fragrant dessert that makes you want more with every spoon
- Cultural delight! This Bastani Sonnati is a traditional Iranian dessert that has stood the test of time
Ingredients to make Persian Ice Cream
- Vanilla ice cream, as we are using store bought ice cream, ensure its a good quality made with whole milk for the best texture. If you are wishing for a dairy free recipe or vegan version without any eggs, you can try a plant based ice cream or coconut ice cream with a dash of vanilla extract (I haven't however tested this myself yet)
- Saffron...of course! I mean you can't make Persian saffron ice cream without it 🙂 You can find saffron at your Persian supermarket or middle eastern supermarket. Some local supermarkets also sell it
- Rose water gives a beautiful fragrant aroma and flavor. It's quite strong so a little goes a long way. You can find rose water at a Persian supermarket or middle eastern supermarket. Some local supermarkets also sell it
- Cream, it's traditional to freeze cream such as heavy cream or thickened cream and once solid, chop them up to make cream chunks. This is then folded into the ice cream for the yummiest texture. Already whipped cream won't work the same, but heavy whipping cream will be fine to also use
- Pistachios give a lovely crunch through the ice cream. You can use salted or unsalted pistachios, whichever you prefer. I personally like it with a little salt for a contrast in flavor. You can also substitute with other nuts such as almonds or walnuts of you have an allergy
What is Saffron?
Saffron is a spice from the flower of Crocus sativus. It's more expensive than gold by weight and the most expensive spice in the world! Saffron is in a lot of Persian dishes which brings out a beautiful aroma, colour and flavour.
As Saffron is quite expensive, it's important to understand a little bit goes a long way and to use it correctly to ensure you get the most out of it. It has a nickname "Liquid Gold"
How to use Saffron?
- The best way to use Saffron is to firstly grind the saffron threads using a mortar and pestle so it becomes a grainy fine powder
- You then add a small amount of the powder, with a couple tablespoons of boiling water and allow it to infuse for 10 minutes. you will see the beautiful colour and aromas bursting out! Once the saffron has bloomed, you can then drizzle this into your ice cream, food or rice while cooking it
- Another method is using ice cubes rather than boiling water. Add two ice cubes to a small amount of the saffron powder and allow it to melt which infuses the saffron. Both methods work great
How to make Persian Ice Cream (Bastani Sonnati)
This is how to make this delicious and addictive Persian Ice Cream. The key is using store bought ice cream, so you can easily make this recipe in no time at all.
- Pour cream in a baking tray or on a plate lined with parchment paper and freeze for an hour to become solid
- Chop up pistachios finely (as pictured)
- Place a pinch of saffron threads in a mortar and pestle and grind to make a powder
- Add 2 tablespoons of hot water, stir through and allow it to infuse for 10-15 minutes
Make Persian Ice Cream
- Take store bought ice cream out of the freezer and allow it to soften in a large bowl, but not become fully melted
- Pour in the infused saffron water, add rose water and gently mix through using a spatula or wooden spoon until combined
- Add most of the chopped pistachios and fold to combine, leaving some on the side for garnish
- Chop up the frozen cream into tiny pieces
- Pour the ice cream mixture back into the same ice cream container and add frozen cream pieces. Fold gently into the ice cream
- Garnish with extra pistachios, rose petals and place back in the freezer to set for approximately 8 hours or overnight. Serve Persian Ice Cream in bowls or in between circle wafers to create saffron ice cream sandwiches and enjoy!!!
Tips and Tricks
- Ice cream must be slightly softened not melted. The goal is to achieve a slightly softened texture without allowing the ice cream to fully melt. If ice cream is fully melted and then refreezed, there is a risk of bacteria
- Make sure to bloom your saffron threads! It's criminal in Persian cooking if you don't do this as you will waste it. After grinding the saffron threads into a fine powder, add 2 tablespoons of hot water and allow to infuse. You can also add a few ice cubes instead of hot water for a different method
- Use high quality ingredients. As there are only 5 ingredients, using high quality ingredients will leave you with the perfect mouth watering dessert!!
- Fold the ingredients into the softened ice cream gently rather than using a whisk as you still want it to be a thick mixture
Storage and Freezing
- Store your Persian Ice Cream in the same tub that you purchased the ice cream, that way you can easily place in the freezer
- Otherwise you can cover the ice cream with parchment paper to prevent freezer burn and store in an airtight container or even a loaf pan
- It can be stored for up to two months, but it's unlikely to last that long once you take your first scoop 🙂
More Persian Recipes
- Barbari Bread (Persian Flatbread)
- Persian Patties (Kotlet)
- Shirazi Salad
- Mast o Khiar (Persian Cucumber Yogurt Dip)
- Persian Eggplant Dip
- Salad Olivieh
- Lubia Polo (Green Bean Rice)
- Persian Rice with Crispy Tahdig
- Sabzi Polo (Persian Herb Rice)
- Mirza Ghasemi (Smoky Eggplant Tomato Dip)
I love seeing your creations and remakes, so be sure to rate the recipe, comment and share your Persian Ice Cream (Bastani Sonnati) photo on Instagram so I can share the love!
Persian Ice Cream - Bastani Sonnati (Easy Cheat Method)
- 1 liter vanilla ice cream (good quality ice cream)
- Good pinch of saffron threads (approx ¼ tsp)
- 1 ½ teaspoon rose water
- 60 g pistachios chopped finely
- ¾ cup cream or heavy cream
- Garnish with rose petals (optional)
- Pour the cream in a baking tray or on a plate lined with parchment paper and freeze for an hour to become solid.
- Place the saffron threads in a mortar and pestle and grind to make a powder. Add 2 tablespoons of hot water, stir through and allow it to infuse for 10-15 minutes
- In the meantime, take the ice cream out of the freezer and allow it to slightly soften in a large bowl, but not become fully melted
- Pour in the saffron water and rose water and gently mix through using a spatula or wooden spoon until well combined then fold in most of the chopped pistachios, leaving some on the side for garnish. Pour the ice cream mixture back into the same ice cream container.
- Chop up the frozen cream into tiny pieces and gently fold these into the saffron ice cream. Garnish with extra pistachios and rose petals and place back in the freezer to set for approximately 8 hours or even overnight.
- Serve up your persian ice cream in bowls or in between circle wafers to create saffron ice cream sandwiches and enjoy!!!
- Please ensure ice cream is only slightly softened when preparing this recipe, as mentioned in the recipe, don't let it become fully melted. More information can be found in the Tips and Tricks section in this post