Light and intense. Smooth and creamy. No churn. No cream, no eggs, just pure middle eastern flavors.
Ashta, mastic gum, Salep powder, Rose water, Orange blossom water, and pistachios. These handful of ingredients basically sum up middle eastern dessert flavors. All of them combined make up every Arab child’s favorite treat, Booza Arabeye (Arabic Ice Cream).
Forget all you know about your ice cream and let me take you on a little trip. It originated in the streets of Damascus. Around every corner of Souk Al Hamedeye, you can find a “Maallem Booza“, working away and creating this little piece of heaven. All the ingredients are combined together and pounded with large wooden mallets and then pulled and stretched, owing its taffy-like consistency to an ingredient called mastic gum. It’s smooth, creamy, and unlike normal ice cream, it has a stretchy kind of consistency. The ones we had back home were formed into balls and then rolled into a mix of crushed and pulverized pistachios.
For the non-middle eastern readers, here’s a little briefing on Mastic gum and Sahlab Powder.
Mastic gum comes in little yellow crystals. It has a wide spectrum of usage that include everything from pharmaceuticals, to perfumes, cosmetics, beverages, baking goods, sweets, as well as in cooking. This may turn away the weak hearted, but it really elevates all the flavors if used correctly.
Sahlab powder is kind of hard to find, unless you go to a specialty spices shop (I’ve lived my entire life in the Middle East and only came across the pure powder a few days ago). In this recipe, it’s used more of a flavoring than a thickening agent, so using the regular sahlab drinking powder works just fine.