• Pistachio ice cream with burnt sugar (Simon Griffiths and Ebrahim Khadem Bayat)Source: Simon Griffiths and Ebrahim Khadem Bayat

Pistachios, a mainstay of Persian cuisine, make their way into Iran's ice-cream and make for a delightfully rich and bold flavour with a wholesome creamy texture.






Skill level

Average: 4 (2 votes)

This ice cream, which Mamma used to ask Amin to prepare for her parties when we were little, brings back so many memories. We had one of those old ice-cream churners – an ice-filled wooden tub with a metal insert where the ice cream went – and we children would take turns turning the handle. The burnt sugar would then be sprinkled on top like a golden rain. Heaven!


  • 250 g (9 oz) pistachios, lightly toasted
  • 120 g (4½ oz/½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 litre (34 fl oz/4 cups) milk
  • 10 cardamom pods, seeds extracted and ground
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites

Burnt sugar

  • 100 g (3½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 tbsp water

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Chilling time: Overnight, if you have time

Churning time: 40 minutes (depending on ice-cream machine model)

1. Add half of the pistachios and half of the sugar to a food processor and blitz together to a fine dust. Set aside. Pulse the rest of the pistachios to a coarser consistency.

2. Heat the milk in a large heavy-based saucepan. Add the pistachio and sugar mixture and the rest of the pistachios, together with the cardamom and salt, and gently bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes to release the oils and flavour of the nuts. Remove from the heat and leave to cool just a little. 

3. Beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Mix a little of the hot milk through the egg yolks, then pour all the egg mixture into the hot milk. Put it back over very low heat and, stirring constantly, let it thicken until it coats the spoon. If you have time, pour the mixture into an airtight container, transfer to the refrigerator and leave to chill overnight (this is optional, but will intensify the pistachio flavour). 

4. When ready to freeze the ice cream, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold them into the ice-cream mixture, then churn in your ice-cream machine. (If you do not have an ice-cream machine, put it in the freezer and whip it with a fork every 2 hours until you have your preferred consistency.)

5. For the burnt sugar, melt the sugar and water together in a heavy-based saucepan. When the sugar turns a golden brown pour it evenly over a tray lined with baking paper. Let it cool and harden completely. 

6. Once cool, put another sheet of baking paper over the top of the sugar and use a small hammer or suitable heavy object to beat it into a coarse ‘dust’. Sprinkle over individual servings of the ice cream. 


Pardiz by Manuela Darling-Gansser (Hardie Grant Books, $60.00). Photography by Simon Griffiths & Ebrahim Khadem Bayat.