It’s hard to imagine life without our modern conveniences like running water, plumbing, and, oh yeah, refrigeration! Sure, the other two may seem more significant, but food storage is a pretty big deal. Especially when it comes to ice cream. Glad we could give you some perspective on that. It may surprise you then, that one of the first widely-followed recipes for ice cream dates back over 500 years ago. The recipe originates from the Middle East and is actually still made almost the exact same way in traditional Middle Eastern dessert shops. The dish is called Booza, and aside from being one of the oldest forms of ice cream, it’s known for being stretchy!
What’s the key to stretchy ice cream? Like every other recipe, the right ingredients and the right method! The special ingredients in booza are sulabh, which is a starchy powder made from the ground tubers of wild orchids, and mastic, a piney tree sap that has hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. The other ingredients are pretty much what you would expect – milk, sugar, and salt, as well as added flavors. Traditional booza is flavored with rose water and sometimes pistachios.
Step 1: Boil & Strain
First things first. Combine your ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil while stiring constantly. It’s important to keep stiring and scraping off the edges of the pot, as the ingredients will start to stick and ultimately burn if not watched closely! Once the mixture is nice and thick, strain it through a fine mesh strainer.
Step 2: Spin & Scrape
Next, let the mixture cool and prepare the ice bath. There are machines nowadays that do this part, but in the spirit of the traditional recipe, you can grab a large tub and fill it with ice and rock salt. Dig out a spot for a smaller metal bucket and let the whole thing cool down until frosty. Then, pour your booza mixture into the small bucket and spin it around and around. The idea is to use centripetal force to cause the mixture to stick to the sides of the bucket. Scrape the sides down, and repeat the process a few more times.
Step 3: Beat the Booza!
Here comes the fun part, and the other key to what makes booza so stretchy… the booza bat! There’s nothing special about this bat in particular, any blunt object would do. The important part is to keep beating the ice cream until it becomes sticky and stetchy. The bat is basically ridding the mixture of both air and ice crystals, thus making the consistency very dense and stretchy.
The End Result
Sweet, stretchy ice cream! This is closer to Italian gelato than it is to the ice cream we have here in America. Since booza is so dense, it doesn’t melt right away, thus providing an even longer lasting treat! Sure, this process might be a bit much to tackle on your own, but hopefully it inspired you to find a Middle Eastern dessert shop near you so you can try out this 500 year old treat for yourself!