Haagen Dazs. Ben and Jerry’s. Halo Top. Breyers. Those are the usual suspects whenever having a conversation on top ice cream brands. And rightfully so. They’re all delicious in their own right. When shopping those brands, you can expect some typical ice cream flavors, such as vanilla, strawberry, coffee, caramel, chocolate. Persian ice cream introduces you to a whole new world. We recently wrote a blog post on the top five most popular Persian desserts, which included everything from sholeh zard, similar to a rice pudding but with saffron and pistachios, to bamieh, the Persian version of mini doughnuts. But two of our top five hits were varieties of Persian ice cream! We described the incredible flavors and textures that come in the Persian classic of saffron, rosewater and pistachio ice cream, a fragrant, creamy ice cream flavor that originates from the streets of Tehran. We also discussed the wonders of faloodeh, which is less so an ice cream but more so a frozen treat consisting of rose water, sugar and vermicelli-sized noodles made from starch.
Given the uniqueness of Persian ice cream flavors and the love which they have received, we thought we’d now commit a blog post entirely to our five favorite Persian ice cream, or bastani, flavors. This list is by no means comprehensive. For the best place in Los Angeles to check out the full array of Persian ice cream flavors, our number one recommendation is Saffron & Rose, who has been making some of the most authentic and delicious Persian ice cream flavors for years now. A strong second option in Los Angeles for Persian ice cream is Mashti Malone, who is often credited with bringing Persian ice cream to Los Angeles.
Regardless of where you ultimately go to experience the magic of Persian ice cream, the below is our list of the top five Persian ice cream flavors that are an absolute must try. And once you have tried them, be sure to let us know your thoughts as to which one was your favorite!
Number 1: Saffron, rose water and pistachio
Of all the Persian ice cream flavors, this one has got to be the most popular. Whether served inside of two crispy wafers as a sandwich or as a scoop in a cup on its own, you really can’t go wrong with this Persian classic. In addition to a beautiful texture and fragrance, this Persian bastani also has actual cream chunks scattered throughout the ice cream, providing it with extra creaminess. If you’re on a diet, then this may not be the ice cream for you, but if you’re looking to treat yourself, than this beautiful combination of unique ingredients that are rarely found together in any ice cream flavor is the perfect treat for you!
Number 2: Faloodeh
As the current chief ice cream maker at Mashti Malone describes, the process of convincing Angelenos to eat a frozen treat / sorbet with noodles in it was not an easy task. The starch noodles, rosewater and sugar may not be the “ice cream” flavor with which you’re most familiar with, but just one taste of this frozen treat will get you falling in love. When enjoying it, most people ordinarily pair it with a more traditional Persian ice cream, such as saffron and pistachio, and go half and half. Other ways of enjoying it are to top it off with a hint of lemon juice and sour cherry syrup. While this is a treat that is sure to take Persian Angelenos back to their summertime days in Iran, it has definitely now become a frozen treat universally loved by all.
Number 3: Cucumber
On a hot summer day, there are few things as refreshing as Persian cucumber ice cream. Consisting of a creamy base, Persian cucumbers are sliced and shaved, and scattered throughout the ice cream, providing it with extra texture and flavor. Rose water is also added for flavor and aroma purposes. In our blog post on the five most popular Persian beverages, we discussed how refreshing sekanjabin is, or the Persian mint and cucumber cooler. Persian cucumber ice cream is essentially that drink in ice cream form. You may not necessarily fall in love with it your first time enjoying it, but it’s an ice cream that will slowly win over your tastebuds thanks to its unique ingredients and flavors.
Number 4: White Rose / Pink Rose
This one is a two-in-one. As you could probably tell from a significant number of our blog posts, from the most popular Persian desserts to the most popular Persian drinks, rose water is an incredibly popular ingredient used in Persian cuisine. For that reason, it’d make sense that there’s an ice cream flavor completely devoted to the ingredient. Unlike Persian cucumber ice cream or saffron, rose water and pistachio ice cream, which are both full of inclusions, Persian white or pink rose ice cream are pure, meaning that they don’t have any actual inclusions other than the cream chunks scattered throughout. This allows you to enjoy the rose water to its fullest. This one will definitely be an instantaneous favorite the first time you try it.
Number 5: Date
And now for the grand finale! This was a tough one, since there were so many interesting flavors to choose from for the last spot. We were tempted to go with either pomegranate or orange blossom, but we thought date was the one to go to. We admit that date ice cream may not necessarily be unique to Persian ice cream, as it can be found in other ethnicities’ ice cream cuisine, including Greek and Turkish. But we’re proudly going to lay claim on this one here. A rich rose water based, creamy ice cream is mixed with pitted dates, offering even added sweetness. The dates also are perfect in this ice cream for the extra texture that they provide.
While this is our list of our top five favorite Persian ice cream flavors, it by no means covers them all. That’s why we recommend sampling as many flavors as you’d like during your next visits to a Los Angeles ice cream shop.Prior to that visit, however, and in order to set the entire Persian culinary adventure mood for the night, we recommend starting your night off with our modern take on the traditional Persian classic of tahdig and khoresht, or crispy basmati rice with stew. Whether you’re looking to top your mini tahdig bites with ghormeh sabzi, fesenjan or gheymeh, our trio of vegetarian Persian stews have got you covered. From tahdig and khoresht to Persian ice cream, we’ve got your whole night covered!