Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Think Spice, Think Twice - Gum Mastic - Rosewater, Cardamom and Gum Mastic Icecream

My friend Ivy of Kopiaste is hosting Think Spice, created by Sunita's World, this month, and has chosen fennel seeds or gum mastic as the spice - take your pick. I have chosen gum mastic, because Ivy sent me some to try last year, and until now, I haven't made anything with it.

Gum mastic only comes from special trees on the Greek island of Chios, and it is certainly not something you see every day here.

After agonising over the recipe I would make, I eventually chose to make something that I have admired for a long time because of the stunning photographs accompanying the post. This recipe is
rosewater, cardamom and gum mastic icecream, by Keiko of Nordljus.

Nigel Slater
wrote that rosewater icecream is not to everyone's liking, and he was right. The flavour is very unusual, and I cannot truthfully say that I love it. However, this icecream looked beautiful in its creamy glory, contrasting with the pink dried rose petals that I sprinkled on top to emulate Nordljus's photographs.

Here is a selection of the raw ingredients for this icecream, including the gum mastic:

To give you a better idea of what the gum mastic looks like, here are some of the little resin pearls being ground up with sugar in my mortar and pestle:

As I have never used gum mastic before, I am not sure how much of the flavour of the icecream can be attributed to the gum mastic, and how much was due to the other striking flavours, including the strong rosewater flavour, and cardamom.

One thing that I learned from making this icecream is why you would bother to grind up your own spices fresh from the seeds or pods. The smell of the cardamom seeds after being freshly ground was very piquant, and nothing like the smell of the ready ground variety that you buy in supermarkets.

Thanks to Ivy for hosting this event and for the gum mastic. If you would like to contribute a dish for this event, you need to send your submission in to Ivy by 28 February.


Ivy said...

Gaye, thanks very much for participating in this event and for all your effort to make this recipe especially for the event. My only note to you is that you have added two strong ingredients which have hidden the mastic. I love both rose water and cardamom but each one have their own distinct flavour. If you still have some mastic gum left, 1 teaspoon (or half the content of the sachet) is more than enough. In order to get the full flavour you can make any kind of vanilla cream or ice cream and just flavour it with mastic instead of vanilla, so that you may see the difference.

Maria said...

Interesting recipe for ice cream!! Fun event!

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of gum mastic. It sounds interesting. If I find some, I'll buy it.

The Blonde Duck said...

Thanks for the award! It was so sweet of you to think of me! (Get the pun? :) ) I never heard of gum mastic before!

Nazarina A said...

Thanks for the tutorial on gum mastic! This is why I love to visit blogs for the simple reason of enriching ones knowledge! Thanks. I sure would love a little bowl of your ice cream!

Sara said...

Sounds good to me! I'm still learning how to use my mortar and pestle.

Unknown said...

hey hey hey... aren't we enjoying this weather by cooling down with bowlful of ice cream? Wooo hooooooo!! love it with rosewater.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I've never cooked with gum mastic before, it sounds intriguing! The rose petals look so gorgeous sprinkled on top! :)

Cakelaw said...

Thanks Ivy - noted and will do. Thanks for hosting this event as well!

Hi Maria, definitely good fun.

Hi Pinkstripes, it is used mainly in Greek and Middle Eastern cooking, if that helps.

Hi Duckie, until I met Ivy, nor had I!

Hi Nazarina, it is absolutely amazing what you learn from reading other people's blogs. I have a whole new vocabulary, and have learned that even other Western countries have their own unique style with food.

LOL Sara - this was the first time that I used mine!

A big bowl for you Arfi ;)

Hi Lorraine, I have coveted rose petals for ages - this was a good excuse to invest in some.