June sees to the return of the ice cream churner, and this year we are starting with a more Arab-flavored ice cream: dondurma (دوندرمة السحلب). By no means do I claim this as an accurate replica to the utterly amazing and unreal Turkish dondurma. That you are going to have to ideally visit Turkey for.
But the concept of dondurma is that its major flavorings and texture (unbelievable elastic and chewy) comes from sahlab (or salep) and ground mastic gum.
Both ingredients are exotic: the first is the root of a specific kind or orchid flower that grows in Turkey, and the second is a plant resin. Seeing that real sahab reached the brink of extinction, the Turkish government wisely banned export, so now whatever sahab commercially available is either extremely diluted or a mock sahab. Enter this ice cream. My sister described it as mahalabi ice cream, and she’s not far off. But the sahab mixture I got gives it beautiful floral undertones and a different texture than regular ice cream.
I use my ice cream churner, but you can also make it without one as outlined in the recipe from ya salam cooking.
2 mastic clusters, frozen for 5 minutes
1/3 cup ground sahlab
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
With a mortar, grind the mastic clusters with a tablespoon of the sugar; set aside.
Lightly whisk the cream and sahlab until combined; set aside.
Over medium-low heat, combine the milk, cream-sahlab mix, ground mastic, and sugar in a pot and whisk continually for about 25 minutes until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Remember to continue stirring to not let the milk scorch.
Pour the mixture in a deep dish and let cool.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Next day, pour the mixture in the frozen ice cream churner (mine requires 48 hour freezing to churn ice cream) and work until frozen and scoopable.