Rosewater, Cardamom and Gum Mastic Ice-cream

27 March 2006

It’s always exciting to try ingredients you’ve never used before – although I sometimes (OK, often) miss the food from my country, one of the positive aspects of moving to the UK is that it’s more multicultural and so we can get many different types of ingredients that I’ve never tried before.

I’ve had this distinctive ice-cream here and absolutely loved it. I vaguely remembered that the recipe was included in the Clarks’ book and I was right – I wasted no time finding the right page, but soon realised that there was one ingredient I couldn’t get here – called gum mastic. It’s a resin from a tree native to Greece and Turkey and people there chew it instead of chewing gum. In the book, the Clarks say that you can omit the gum mastic, but I really wanted to try using it and checked Greek/Turkish suppliers in London – there were quite a few, but none of them were located conveniently for me so I had to give up going myself. I knew I could ask Shalimar about it, though :) She is a world traveller, but has lived in Greece for a while now. She knew exactly what I was talking about and sent me some mastic straightaway, I was actually making the ice-cream just a few days after I was asking her about it, she is indeed a kind-hearted soul.

Their recipe suggests using evaporated milk as well as milk and double cream. Reduce the milk and cream by boiling for a while before adding the evaporated milk – it will be almost beige in colour and have a concentrated creamy flavour. Infusing the milk with cardamom and cinnamon already makes for an exotic flavour, but this jewel-like gum mastic (its smell is gorgeous) and rosewater makes this ice-cream even more so. (I love to sprinkle some rose petals on top – although it’s more of an aesthetic factor, it does add some flavour and smells lovely)

I suspect this isn’t to everyone’s liking, but it’s definitely worth trying if you like Eastern Mediterranean food. I’ve also made the ice-cream with orange-blossom water instead of rosewater and it was equally delicious. I’ve found a similar recipe in this book too – her version is simpler and only uses gum mastic to flavour the ice-cream. She has included a recipe for yoghurt and semolina syrup cake with rosewater – which must go wonderfully well with the ice-cream, I shall try it as soon as I can :) Oh and while I was struggling to shoot the rapidly melting ice-cream, someone was giving me moral support…


Serves 4

1 tablespoon whole green cardamoms
300ml milk
300ml double cream
1 cinnamon stick
85g caster sugar
100ml rose water
1 teaspoon gum mastic crystals, crushed with 1 teaspoon caster sugar (optional)
200ml evaporated milk
dried rose petals (optional)

Crush the whole cardamoms in a pestle and mortar, take out the pods leaving the seeds then pound the seeds to a fine powder.

Place the milk and double cream in a saucepan, add the ground cardamom and cinnamon stick. Bring to the boil and simmer over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced by about a quarter to a rich creamy colour (it takes about half an hour).

Place the sugar and rose water in another saucepan and dissolve the sugar over a low heat until it becomes a thin syrup. Remove from the heat and cool.

When the milk and cream are ready, remove from the heat and stir in the crushed gum mastic (if using) and cool for about 15 minutes. Sieve the liquid and discard the solids. Add the evaporated milk and combine with the rose water syrup. Cool and chill.

Churn in an ice-cream machine until thick enough to scoop (if you haven’t got a machine, freeze the chilled mixture, giving it an energetic whisk with a hand whisk or electric mixer every half an hour or so to prevent crystallisation).

Food - Sweet        66 comments    Permalink

  • Sounds freally interesting this ice cream! But what does the gum mastice taste like in itself? Spicy or like resin in general?

    Posted by Ilva | 27 March 2006 #
  • Looks delicious. I have been planning to try an ice cream recipe for some time, how ever I was scared. You gave me courage.

    Posted by Glutton Cat | 27 March 2006 #
  • good question about the taste of mastic.. 20 years agoI hated it sooo much

    now I love smelling them and I actually started to like the mastic liquer

    this is not easy to love i suppose.. intense, fragrant but once its incorporated into food i think the actual taste sorts of fade away but you get this distinct aroma...i can just imagine the taste cardammon.. rose water mastic very levantin

    email you later am packing...

    Posted by sha | 27 March 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    Wow, that’s an absolutely gorgeous photo of ice cream! I know what you mean about it wilting... even as simple as my photo for the pistachio ice cream that i made, i had to click click click quite rapidly so as to just get a picture.... any picture! This looks delish indeed.

    Posted by mae | 27 March 2006 #
  • All sound great, Keiko!!

    Photo’s... recipe!!

    The taste will be so sweetie...

    And your cat it’s wonderful...


    Posted by Sandra | 27 March 2006 #
  • lovely photos, I love the color matching.& the paatern on the ?tablecloth?, looks sooo middle east

    wow! gum mastic, this is something new I learn today! yeah, love to know how it taste like as well:) And one tablespoon of green cardamon, oh dear, is it too overpowering?

    Posted by slurp! | 27 March 2006 #
  • it’s really a nice mix all those different flavours ! Never heard about gum mastic and I’m curious about it ! Looks nice !

    As usual your photo is perfect!

    Posted by mercotte | 27 March 2006 #
  • Gum mastic? I’ve learned something new today! And it looks to be a curious looking ingredient.---Seeing your cat makes me miss Maddie, I hope she won’t forget me.

    Posted by rowena | 27 March 2006 #
  • Keiko - fantastic as always! I love that opening shot. The blue tablecloth is gorgeous.

    Posted by L | 27 March 2006 #
  • You always seem to have fun experimenting with uncommon recipes.

    Posted by Maya | 28 March 2006 #
  • gorgeous shots indeed!and looks yum!

    Posted by ces | 28 March 2006 #
  • It must be wonderful Keiko. And i am very curious about the taste and smell of gum mastic.

    Stunning shots!

    Posted by fanny | 28 March 2006 #
  • Keiko, it sounds and looks heavenly. I used to not be a fan of rose flavouring at all until I sampled Herme’s Ispahan, and suddenly I find myself daydreaming about it, and anything with rosewater has me drooling. The ice cream, and the yogurt cake---oh my. Im right back to daydreaming again...

    Oh, and I love the picture of kitty. ;)

    Posted by michele | 28 March 2006 #
  • Sounds absolutely fantastic. I love the different ingredients.

    Posted by Christiane | 28 March 2006 #
  • OOh, I love the kitty picture. I hope there are kitty pictures in every post. Alas, I’ll settle for the gorgeous food photographs too!

    Posted by Dana | 28 March 2006 #
  • I’ve had mastic turkish delight (loukhum) and had to spit it out. This does sound interesting though...and the pictures are sure convincing.

    Posted by MasPinaSarap | 28 March 2006 #
  • hi keiko, stunning post, and gorgeous pictures! funnily enough, the reason i decided to purchase the moro book was on account of this ice-cream recipe (which, slacker that i am, i have yet to try!) - i had first read an adaptation of the clarks’ recipe in nigel slater’s observer column some years back and the idea of all those exotic flavours in a luscious ice-cream made a huge impression that never left me; thank you, as always, for being an inspiration ;)

    Posted by Joycelyn | 29 March 2006 #
  • To all those who wonder what gum mastic tastes like, Harold McGee describes it as resinous, with piney and woody characteristics. Apparently the resin comes only from a particular tree on the Greek island of Chios, and it’s not very soluble, so it has to be finely ground and mixed with another powder -- like the caster sugar in this recipe -- if it is to be "dispersed evenly" in a liquid.

    Posted by rob | 29 March 2006 #
  • So inviting and yummy photos...I’m not sure if I’d like rosewater, cardamom, guy mastic tastes in my ice-cream though ;-P You’re very creative...brilliant! I also don’t like lavender taste ice-cream I tried in Nice one day...garlic ice-cream? no way...I didn’t even want to give it a try...maybe I should just to know, but the thought of it already makes me take less risks :-D I see so many flavors to ice-cream nowadays...flavors that I never thought would be possible in ice-cream...amazing.

    Posted by Maya | 29 March 2006 #
  • Lovely.

    Posted by lindy | 29 March 2006 #
  • Keiko,

    Shooting ice cream can be tricky, can’t it - but as usual you’ve pulled it off in stunning fashion. One time I made ice cream at my boyfriend’s place and didn’t realize until I was ready to take pictures that he had no ice-cream scoop! So I got to practice making quenelles with some spoons instead...:) You definitely have a knack for finding the most fascinating recipes to try, and beautiful results!

    Posted by Anita | 29 March 2006 #
  • Was the Gum Mastic Gum-tastic too? Sorry, I had to ask that just to say it! :-)

    Super pretty photos as usual. Sounds delish to boot.

    Posted by Pim | 29 March 2006 #
  • i’ve had a similar ice cream and it is a storybook of a flavor in that conjures up fantasies and seems to wake up a part of your brain last sparked when you were a kid. but it’s such an adult flavor, as some would say. i love gum mastic. a friend of mine taught me how to make Pascha bread with some of the stuff pulverized. with an eggy dough, it is really addictive.

    i love the blue with the pale rose ice cream, beautiful!

    Posted by vanessa | 30 March 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko

    I know what you mean about how ingredients are more readily available now. In Canada we can find many ingredients in the grocery store that used to be thought of as "exotic" and could only be found in a few "specialty shops." This, of course, means that I get lots of questions about this spice or that flavour--which I don’t mind because it simply means that more people are trying them :)


    Posted by Jasmine | 30 March 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    I love gum mastic and was looking for some recipes to try it out. I think I will make a cookie version of your ice-cream recipe. You are such an inspiration!

    Posted by bakingfairy | 30 March 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    this post is so wonderful as usual with the pics but also with the recipe! I love the smell of mastic gum, the turkish double cream, cardamom... I have turkish origin;) I have to try this ice-cream!

    Posted by dilek | 31 March 2006 #
  • Keiko

    am still settling down here sorry for no email yet

    was waiting for the decision of UK visit...

    am in antibes sea, good food,markets....

    just looking at yr page makes me miss my blogging

    Posted by sha | 31 March 2006 #
  • Once Rob mentioned the pine/wood taste of gum mastic, I guess I’d have to agree since it is a resin although I’ve always thought of it as 1/4 minty, 1/4 clovelike and 1/2 ginsengy. I love it!

    Posted by Susan in Italy | 31 March 2006 #
  • Hi everyone, thanks so much for all your feedback.

    Ilva - like Sha was saying, it’s more about a fragrance than an actual taste. It’s not really spicy, more of a refreshing flavour I’d say.

    Glutton Cat - I can assure you that you can’t beat home made ice-cream - it’s so easy to make and absolutely delicious. Go for it and let me know when you try :)

    Sha - thanks again for your kind thoughts, I still remember the lovely aroma when I opened the package, made me want to visit there some time... I hope you’re enjoying staying in France (I’m sure you are), looking forward to hearing about it, take care.

    Mae - I must try the pistachio ice-cream next ;) Every time I take ice-cream pictures I decide ’I’m not going to do this again’ but just can’t help making it, I love it so much :)

    Sandra - I hope Tatina is keeping well too, send hugs from me.

    Slurp - I know 1 tbs sounds a lot, but it was just right - of course you can use less.

    Rowena - of course Maddie is missing you too!

    Maya - I never thought I was up for a challenge, but I seem to enjoy it :)

    Michele - I used to think ’flowers for flavouring? No way!’ too, but using them in a subtle, complex way really helps and I’m being converted now...

    Dana - I can see you are a cat lover, have you got one too? If so, any chance I can see him/her on your site? :)

    MasPinaSarap - oh I’m not mad about Turkish delight either :)

    Joycelyn - I’m glad you were interested in this ice-cream too. I didn’t know it was featured in food monthly, I guess he likes it too :) Hope you can try it some time.

    Rob - thanks for the info, I can see you really like the McGee book ;)

    Maya - do you remember I put a recipe for the lavender and pear ice-cream some time ago? I’m still not a fan of strong flowery flavours, but it’s very subtle and enhance the whole taste.

    Anita - it is tricky and stresses me out :) I think it’s a great way to learn how to make quenelles, you must be an expert by now! I shall need a lot of practice too...

    Pim - yes, the Gum Mastic was Gum-tastic! :)

    Vanessa - I agree with you about ’an adult flavour’ - your Pascha bread sounds wonderful, have you written about it yet? Plase let me know if you have.

    Jasmine - I know, there must have been quite a lot of changes in the last decade or so. Of course I won’t complain, it’s fascinating :)

    Bakingfairy - what a lovely name you have! :) Your cookie version sounds fantastic, please let me know when you make them.

    Dilek - thank you, I’d like to hear if it’s authentic enough. Is Turkish double cream very different from ’normal’ one?

    Susan - I think you described the flavour perfectly, thank you :)

    Posted by keiko | 31 March 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko,nice to see another fan of gum-mastic.Heavenly flavour, isn’t it.You can get gum mastic in Middle Eastern stores in london easily..They usually don’t put in display,because it’s expensive, so you have to ask the shop owner. And also I have gum mastic preserve-jam recipe in my blog if you want to see..

    Posted by betul | 1 April 2006 #
  • ice cream- something still unfamiliar for me to attempt myself. nevertheless your post prompts me to go out and get a scoop now!

    Posted by steffles | 1 April 2006 #
  • Hello Keiko,

    Wonderful blog and the best pictures I have seen, I was hoping you could give me some pointers on photographing my desserts, I am having a very hard time and I think it may be the lighting.

    It is so nice to be able to share thru blogging with people from different countries. I am in Houston and am a chocolate maker. Thak you again for such a beautiful site.

    Posted by Connie Rose | 1 April 2006 #
  • Sorry here is my correct email

    Posted by Connie Rose | 1 April 2006 #
  • A pity I can not try it. Love your picture, so peaceful and your spoon is so cute

    Posted by bonheursdesophie | 1 April 2006 #
  • That’s magic! It’s just as if I could smell your photos!!!

    Posted by Scherneel | 3 April 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    Your blog is beautiful! I am definately a fan of your food and photos. I’m going to add you to my blog roll. Thanks!

    Posted by sam | 3 April 2006 #
  • I will continue to visit enjoyed the reading thanks

    Posted by Alena | 4 April 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko - beautiful pictures, as usual! I have a packet of mastic (and another of mahlepi) waiting to be used, and I’ve sampled couple of bread recipes as well a rice pudding recipe to try first. I had never heard of these 2 spices before, until I baked the Greek/Cypriot Easter bread tsoureki last year. Since then, I’ve developed quite a taste for it - for instance, my current mouthfreshener mints are with mastic:)

    Posted by pille | 4 April 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko, that ice cream sounds and looks fantastic. I remember seeing it in the Moro cookbook, but wasn’t familiar with gum mastic. I’ll have to keep my eyes open to see if I can find any locally at some of the Greek stores. Both yours and Susan’s descriptions of the flavors make it sound very worth seeking out. Thank you for a lovely post.

    Posted by Brett | 5 April 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    This kind of ice-cream is widly known in arabic countries. And the gum mastic (we arabic people call it: MISTEKAH) can be found in supermarkets easily. MISTEKAH or gum mastic is also used in flavouring sweets, doughs and some other savory dishes.

    Delicious photos indeed

    Posted by Latifa | 6 April 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko, Your ice cream recipe inspired me to make an Indian milk dessert with the same cardamom, rose water and gum mastic for my blog. It turned out well, thanks so much!

    Posted by Susan in Italy | 6 April 2006 #
  • Hi, just ba chance I came to see your Gum Mastic interest. We have a store / mailorder business which specializes in difficult materials. We ofer Gum Mastic 1a quality from Chios in Greece, # 60050 , 100 gramm cost 21 Euro from Germany or 29 US $ from our store in New York.

    Posted by Georg Kremer | 6 April 2006 #
  • Looks very special, i don’t know if i would like it. But otherwise it seems very tastefull :-)



    Posted by Shanna | 6 April 2006 #
  • Hey keiko - congrats on the olive mention but I am so bummed they had a typo on your url!

    love to you from sam x

    Posted by Sam Breach | 6 April 2006 #
  • Hey, just seen your wonderful blog being mentioned in Olive :)

    Posted by Rabbit | 8 April 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko - What amazing artistry. I just love it! I live in Paris at the moment but know London and Norfolk well so it’s just wonderful to be able to look at all the pictures. Even more so since I used to have a cat just like Maya, one of the most regal creatures on earth.

    Posted by Fiona | 8 April 2006 #
  • Hi there, thanks so much for all your feedback!

    Betul - thank you for your tip, I’ll try to ask next time. Could I ask the name of the shops you normally go to?

    Steffles - you should make some on your own, you’d never go back once you’ve done it :)

    Connie - it must be one of the best jobs being a chocolate maker... I always use day light to take food pictures, although I know it’s difficult for lots of people to do that.

    Pille - oh I can’t wait to see your beautiful creations! Have you posted some of the recipes already? What’s mahlepi like?

    Brett - I wasn’t familiar either, but I’m glad I’ve tried it in the ice-cream. I hope you can find some where you live.

    Latifa - thank you for your info, what kind of savory dishes are there using mistekah? Sounds wonderful!

    Susan - I’m glad you enjoyed it, your Indian dessert sounds lovely!

    Shanna - I know, but you *might* like it :)

    Sam, Rabbit - thanks for the kind words, yes, it was slightly misspelt :)

    Fiona - I live in Suffolk but am familiar with Norfolk of course :) How lovely to live in Paris, I’m so envious! Have you got a cat at the moment? I wasn’t really a cat lover until I had the first one, but since then I can’t live without them. Maya is super naughty (!) but I agree that they are beautiful creatures...

    Posted by keiko | 10 April 2006 #
  • This post is one of your most beautiful yet. It’s like a dream about food.

    Posted by Alex and Mike | 20 April 2006 #
  • For those in the U.S., mastic gum is available at

    Posted by cv | 25 April 2006 #
  • Hi Alex and Mike - thanks so much for your kind words as always, I hope you enjoy the ice-cream.

    Posted by keiko | 9 May 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko. Tried the "booza" recipe and it was really very good. There is a more simple and less calorific one which tastes just like the icecream we get here in Lebanon. Also have many fruit flavours here too. Wish I could get the recipes for those! The latest is to swirl whipped cream on top of the arabic gum [ called miskey] icecream. Soooo good! Love your website. good luck, and keep going!

    Posted by Paula, Beirut. | 26 May 2006 #
  • Hi Paula - thank you for your kind notes. I’m new to Lebanese cuisine, but I know it is wonderful :) All of the recipes sound fabulous, please share some with us when you have them.

    Posted by keiko | 30 May 2006 #
  • Google “ Gum Arabic” and see what you find. I use this in waterbased paint recipes. It is edible and quite cheap here in the U.K.. I think it is the same thing.

    Posted by Bernard McNally | 30 March 2007 #
  • this is similar to Maras dondurmasi.
    You wouldn’t happen to have that recipe also, would you?

    Posted by dante | 28 May 2007 #
  • Where can I buy Mastic. I live in Lincolnshire

    Posted by kay williams | 8 September 2007 #
  • Wow I love ice cream and cookies.. my favorite stores to buy them are Davids,, Dale&ThomasPopcorn, Mrs.Beasleys FannieMay at

    Posted by Cameron | 10 October 2007 #
  • Hi,

    I from Hong Kong and watched TV show “ My Greek Kitchen”, and 1 of the episode is dessert “Haluvas Nisticimo” with crystralline “mastic”, but it cannot find in Hong Kong any cake food product shop, so can you recommend any other to replace it ! Thank!

    Posted by Polly | 13 October 2007 #
  • Any other product can replace Mastic, cos I cannot find in my town.

    Posted by Polly | 13 October 2007 #
  • Hi there, thank you for all your notes and I’m sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you.

    Dante – I’m sorry but I don’t!

    Kay – it seems like quite a few people are selling it online.

    Polly – I’m sorry but I don’t know what you can use as a substitute – I’ll try to ask some friends who might be able to help me.

    Posted by keiko | 21 January 2008 #
  • Woh.. what a nice ice cream. I want to taste these after seeing. Cardamom and Gum Mastic Ice-cream is totally new for me.

    Posted by David Lee | 29 January 2009 #
  • very interesting and something I would like to try.

    Posted by sarah | 20 April 2009 #
  • Hello Keiko,
    Was the “yoghurt and semolina syrup cake with rosewater” you refer to in your post some version of “basboosa” – with samneh (ghee)? Did you try it?

    Posted by LN_cello | 15 January 2010 #
  • Interesting, I have not tried using evaporated milk to make ice cream, will definitely try it!

    Posted by thebakingbee25 | 12 November 2011 #
  • We made this tonight (without the mastic). It was divine. Thanks!

    Posted by Ainat | 27 February 2012 #
  • The ice cream looks lovely, if you don’t mind I pinned the first photo too. I have never tried gum mastic, so many ingredients to try! Well, at least the rest I can find here in NZ :-).


    Posted by Alessandra | 11 August 2012 #
  • Keiko, love, love, love your blog and this recipe with the cardamom and the rosewater and the ice cream — divine! The mastic reminds me of when I was a little girl in Greece. Gorgeous and inspiring pics — thanks for sharing!

    Posted by christina @ smallkitchenchronicles | 23 August 2012 #

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