Booza is the predecessor to modern ice cream the way we are familiar with it today.
Born five hundred or so years ago in the region of the Mediterranean, it is a favorite in most Arab countries.
A famously stretchy ice cream, I remember eating as a kid in the Old City of Jerusalem, in what was then Palestine.
Stretchy and chewy with a traditional flavor of mastic and milk cream it was a glorious soft serve ice cream.
We’d buy it from a man who had insulated cans with big corks on the top that served as his mobile ice cream shop.
Few things were better in those days, as I’m sure they were many hundreds of years ago when booza first appeared on the scene.
I remember it fondly as of days of fewer choices, and delight in getting anything sweet after a big lunch.
What is Booza Ice Cream?
Booza is a form of ice cream that is made with milk, cream, and most often these days with corn starch.
Booza translates to ice cream in Arabic.
Historically it was thickened with sahlab which is ground orchid root and mastic was used for flavoring, and this is what I still use today.
Sahlab is a very good thickening agent and works well, if you can’t find this ingredient then cornstarch does just as good a job.
Using thickeners make a very unique consistency which is thick, stretchy and substantial tasting.
The process of making this ice cream includes alternating freezing, stretching, and pounding the ingredients.
The one flavor it came in was of qishta, or candied cream, a thick cream taste that it traditionally comes in today.
But many other flavors have popped up over time running the whole gamut of usual ice cream flavors.
Traditionally made in log shapes, and heavily encrusted in pistachios; this was the ice cream of my childhood.
How to Make Booza Ice Cream
As delicious as booza is, it can be a little time-consuming to make.
But definitely worth it!
Start by whisking together sugar, mastic and sahlab in a heavy bottomed pan.
Slowly pour in the milk, then the cream.
Make sure to whisk all the while and then begin to cook over medium heat.
Whisk continuously as the mixture thickens to a pudding like consistency.
Just as the ice cream reaches the boiling point remove from the heat.
The mixture should be getting thicker at this point.
Do not boil, add any additional flavoring at this point, pour the mixture into a bowl and set aside to cool.
Once cool, whisk the mixture, then place the bowl in the freezer for 30 minutes, remove from the freezer, and stir and stretch the ice cream with a rubber spatula.
If adding pistachio nuts this is the time to make the addition; put the ice cream back in the freezer for another 30 minutes.
Remove and repeat the mixing and stretching process, and continue to do this until the ice cream has reached a consistency you like.
Serve with crushed pistachio nuts on top.
Tips for Making
- Make sure to start off with cold milk and cold cream when whisking the ingredients.
- Do whisk continually when heating up the mixture.
- Don’t boil the mixture and be sure it stays smooth as it thickens.
- Don’t leave too long in the freezer when you are stirring it at the beginning.
- Keep tightly sealed when storing.
Booza Ice Cream Recipe
- Slowly pour in the milk and cream into the pot while whisking.
- Place on medium heat.
- Slowly heat while whisking until just before boiling. The mixture should be getting very thick by now.
- Once cool, whisk well and place in the freezer for thirty minutes.
- Remove and whisk again, and replace in the freezer for 30 minutes more.
- Once again remove from the freezer and this time using a spatula, mix and fold over ice cream.
- Repeat this procedure until the mixture reaches a frozen ice cream consistency.
- Place in an airtight container and place in the freezer.
- To serve, scoop into a ball and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.