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Saffron Ice Cream (Bastani Irani)

Deep saffron flavoured ice cream enhanced by rose water and pistachios.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Cooling time 8 hours
Servings 1 quart


  • 1/2 tsp Persian saffron (around 2-3 pinches worth)
  • 2 tbsp freshly boiled water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup full cream/whipping cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks *
  • 1/8 cup rose water (2 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp slivered pistachios, toasted


  1. Grind the saffron with 1 tsp of sugar with a mortar and pestle. In a small bowl combine the saffron with the boiling water. Let steep for 10-15 minutes or while you prepare the other ingredients.

  2. In a medium saucepan, gently heat (on low) the whole milk, 1/4 cup of the cream, cardamom, salt and vanilla, until it steams/heats all the way through.

  3. While the milk mixture is heating up, whip the egg yolks and sugar in a glass measuring jar until pale and double in size. This should take about 5-6 minutes. You do not need a stand mixer for this just use a whisk and some elbow grease.

  4. Pour in about 1/4 cup of the milk mixture into the egg mixture and whisk. You want to temper the egg yolks so they do not curdle or cook. If the egg mixture is still thick add another 1/4 cup of the milk mixture. Mix and then pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the milk mixture. Add the bloomed saffron, stir to combine.

  5. Using a wooden spoon or a spatula continue to stir the custard until it thickens. About 10 minutes (on low heat). The custard will coat the spoon or spatula when it has thickened enough. Remove from heat.

  6. In a large bowl place the remaining 1 cup of whipping cream. Place a sieve on top and strain the custard (to avoid any curdled bits). Stir in the rosewater and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge to cool for 8 hours or overnight.

  7. Churn the mixture according to the manufacturer's instructions. Add the toasted pistachios towards the last five minutes of churning. Transfer to a freezer-safe ice cream container and allow to freeze for at least 2 hours.

  8. Bring the ice cream out 10-15 minutes prior to serving so it softens up. Serve with more toasted pistachios or in a cone!

Recipe Notes

* Want a recipe that uses up egg whites? Check out my chocolate milk french toast recipe here or my macaron recipe!


this recipe makes about 1.5 pints worth of ice cream!