When it comes to ice cream, we often think of the classic vanilla or chocolate flavors. But there’s a whole world of unique ice cream varieties waiting to be discovered. In this article, we’ll take a journey to different parts of the globe to explore some extraordinary ice cream creations. From the Levant and the Middle East to the Philippines and beyond, these distinct frozen treats are worth adding to your ice cream bucket list.
1. Booza: A Taste of the Levant
Origin: Levant and the Middle East
Ingredients: Milk, cream, salep, mastic gum
Texture: Unique, stretchy consistency
Booza is an ice cream variety that hails from the Levant and the Middle East. It’s not your typical ice cream, as it boasts a special ingredient – salep, a thickener made from orchid root, and mastic gum, a resin obtained from mastic trees. These ingredients are meticulously pounded with wooden mallets until they achieve their distinctive, stretchy consistency. What makes booze truly exceptional is that it contains no eggs or added air, resulting in flavor-packed ice cream with an incredibly dense and creamy texture. While the most traditional flavor is known as kashta or qashta, flavored with orange blossom and rose water, you can also find varieties infused with fruit, chocolate, and nuts.
2. Halo-Halo: A Filipino Delight
Ingredients: Mixed fruits, beans, crushed ice, milk or ice cream
Experience: Refreshing and colorful
Halo-Halo, which means “mix-mix” in Filipino, is a beloved dessert and a perfect summer treat. It’s a delightful blend of mixed fruits, beans, crushed ice, and your choice of milk or ice cream. Common ingredients include bananas, jackfruit, coconut, sweet potatoes, red mung beans, chickpeas, sugar palm fruit, purple yam jam, and leche flan. In recent times, even sweet corn or corn crisps have found their way into this refreshing concoction. Interestingly, halo-halo’s roots can be traced back to Japanese shaved ice coolers, offering a unique blend of Japanese and Filipino culinary traditions.
3. Havij Bastani: An Iranian Fusion
Ingredients: Carrot juice, vanilla or saffron ice cream
Serving Style: Beverage or dessert
Havij bastani is a fascinating Iranian dessert that combines fresh carrot juice with a scoop of ice cream, ideally vanilla-flavored or the more traditional saffron-infused version. What’s intriguing about this treat is that it can be enjoyed both as a beverage or dessert. It’s typically served in a glass and garnished with crushed pistachios, cardamom, or cinnamon, adding a delightful depth of flavors to this unique fusion.
4. Bastani Sonnati: Saffron-Infused Iranian Delight
Ingredients: Milk or cream, frozen custard, saffron, rose water, pistachios
Presentation: Served in individual bowls or as an ice cream sandwich
Bastani sonnati is another gem from Iran, celebrated for its saffron-infused goodness. This ice cream was invented by Akbar Mashti, Tehran’s first ice cream vendor, at the start of the 20th century. It combines a creamy mixture of milk or cream, frozen custard, and sliced pistachios. The distinctive flavors come from rose water, saffron, and the use of salep, an ingredient extracted from wild orchids. Iranians enjoy bastani sonnati either in individual bowls, sprinkled with shredded pistachios, or sandwiched between two plain wafers, known as bastani noon ice cream sandwiches.
5. Sorbetes: The Filipino Street Ice Cream
Flavors: Mango, chocolate, cheese, coconut, ube (purple yam)
Serving Style: Small scoops on sugar cones or in bread buns
Sorbetes is a popular Filipino ice cream known for its unique flavors like mango, chocolate, cheese, coconut, and ube (purple yam). Traditionally made from carabao milk, it’s often served in tiny scoops on sugar cones. However, some Filipinos like to enjoy it sandwiched between bread buns, creating a delightful dessert burger. While it may sound like a sorbet, it’s distinctively Filipino, and it’s affectionately known as “dirty ice cream” due to its street-side availability.
6. Dondurma: The Turkish Chewy Delight
Origin: Turkey (Maraş)
Ingredients: Milk, sugar, Arab gum (mastic resin), salep
Texture: Resistant to melting, dense, and chewy
Dondurma, the Turkish ice cream, hails from Maraş, and what sets it apart is its unique resistance to melting and its dense, chewy texture. This extraordinary texture is achieved by adding two thickening agents to the basic milk and sugar mixture: Arab gum, also known as mastic resin, and salep, a flour made from the root of the early purple orchid. In the Kahramanmaraş region, where it’s particularly famous, dondurma contains more sales than usual, earning it the nickname “kesme dondurma,” meaning “cut ice cream.” This is why it’s traditionally eaten with a knife and fork, making it a fascinating and unique ice cream experience.
These are just a few of the incredible ice cream varieties from around the world that you might not have heard of before. Next time you’re seeking a new and unique frozen treat, consider trying one of these global delights and expanding your ice cream horizons.