Rose, Pistachio & Cardamom Ice-cream With Gum Arabic (GF)
When the mailman brought me the packet I was alone at home, which was a good thing as I couldn’t recognise the “secret ingredient” and had to look at the label to clear the mystery. The label said “gondh” which in Hindi means “glue”! She wanted me to cook with glue???
Another look at the packet and it suddenly struck me that the contents looked like plant resins I had read about somewhere. I finally arrived at the conclusion that “gondh” was Gum Arabica/ Edible Gum and while I know it has its uses in the commercial and food industry, I didn’t know the home cook had much use for it.
Further search for information tells me that Gum Arabica is hardened plant resin from a particular species of the Acacia tree and also known as Gum Acacia, Chaar Gondh or Meska. Some of my friends on Twitter also told me that it is very commonly used in the Middle Eastern countries in make rice and milk puddings, an eggless ice-cream, jam and some soft drinks.
The summer heat is beginning to set in and ice-cream is just the thing to make. I have a big bottle of rose syrup in my fridge which I bought to make rose milk but I’m the only one here who likes that. I have to warn you, just in case you’re not used to it, the taste of rose in food is a n acquired taste which some people never do acquire!
So the flavours I chose were rose, cardamom and pistachio. I used unsalted pistachios, but you could try roasted and salted pistachios which would be a nice counterbalance to the sweet ice-cream. Using rose syrup, rose water or rose petals in dessert is a largely a north Indian Muslim tradition, probably adapted from the Persian culinary traditions which came to India with Muslim traders and invaders. Many of the Mughal royal kitchens of the olden days used roses in some form or the other to add sophistication and flavour to their already rich desserts, and that trend continues to this day.
If you can find evaporated milk do use it as that makes it easier to adjust the sugar in this ice-cream. Since I get only sweetened condensed milk, that’s what I used. Be warned, this is a very sweet ice-cream as both the condensed milk and the rose syrup are very sweet and the cardamom tends to add to this effect. You could halve the sugar (or even leave it out altogether), if you prefer.
The result of using the Gum Arabica is an ice-cream which doesn’t freeze like ordinary ice-cream but maintains a consistency like that of soft serve ice-creams. As for the taste and texture, think of a soft rose pink kulfi peppered with crunch of beautiful green bits of pistachio!
- Put the milk and the sugar (minus the 1 tsp for powdering the Gum Arabic crystals) in a heavy bottomed pan. Bring to a boil, while stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Turn down the heat and let the milk simmer, while stirring occasionally, till the milk is reduced to 2/3rds the original volume. Tuake the milk off the heat.
- While the milk is simmering, powder the Gum Arabic and the granulated sugar, using a mortar and pestle, till fine. Add this to the hot milk, stir a couple of times and leave to stand for about 15 minutes. Stir well, and if there are any solids strain the milk to remove them.
- Add the cream and condensed milk to the strained milk and lightly whisk by hand, to blend well. Place the pan back on heat and keep stirring till the milk-cream mixture is hot. Take the pan off the heat. Add the cardamom, rose syrup mix well and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
- Pour the mixture into a somewhat shallow plastic or steel container with lid and chill in the freezer. When the ice-cream has set quite well, break it up with a fork and fold in the chopped pistachios. Put it back in the freezer again till it sets. Take it out once more and break up the crystals, if any, with a fork and ten let the ice-cream set well.
- Serve the ice-cream garnished with some more pistachios and/ or rose petals.