Sometimes on a miserable day sometimes you want a stodgy sponge pudding with custard, or a fragrant apple pie with cream but occasionally you yearn for the exotic, a brief hint of a past remembered holiday or a luscious dessert you once had in a swanky restaurant (OK I’m fantasising I know). Typically on the day you fancy a bit of exoticism the larder is lacking but here’s where having a spice cupboard comes into its own. Having a few spices plus a choice of standby tinned goods can be a godsend.

Today’s hint of the east is Saffron, Cardamom and Rose ice-cream. Such a thing can be found in middle eastern recipe books although often you realise some essential item is missing from your store, in this case mose recipes call for the addition of pistachios. Now it’s likely I’ll never have these to hand because I’m not a big fan but maybe you have some hanging around after the festive blow-out and if so feel free to add them. My version today is based on coconut milk, if you’ve read my blog or tried my recipes you may well have seen a recipe for a vegan ice cream based on this before. This version is significantly different as the coconut milk is infused with spices and sweetened with maple syrup but it does fill the vegan brief if you’re trying ‘Veganuary’. I used reduced fat coconut milk simply because that’s what I had to hand but full fat is fine. Rosewater can be sourced online, also from supermarkets these days or a good international food store.

There is a cooling period so be aware this isn’t a last minute recipe.

Let’s get started.



I ½ cans of coconut milk (use the surplus in a curry or cream based recipe)

10  crushed cardamom pods

A good pinch of saffron (I’ve said before this can seem like an expensive ingredient but a small box lasts for ages as you only use a pinch at a time so it’s worth it)

A vanilla pod or a good vanilla bean paste (vanilla flavouring is a poor substitute but use if necessary)

A dessertspoon of rosewater (or use a good quality fruit syrup although you won’t get the same fragrant element)

2 or 3 good dessertspoons of maple syrup to taste (golden syrup would be a reasonable substitute)

2 teaspoons of arrowroot (or cornflour) for thickening



Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds, add to the coconut milk along with the crushed cardamom pods and crushed saffron strands. Warm the coconut milk over a medium heat stirring to make sure the saffron colours the liquid. While it’s heating mix the arrowroot (or cornflour) with a little water and when the coconut milk just starts to bubble (be careful not to overboil it) stir it in, turn down the heat and keep stirring until the liquid coats the back of a spoon. Take off the heat and leave to cool, put a lid on to help prevent a skin forming.

When cold, strain the liquid to remove the cardamom and vanilla pods. Stir in the rosewater, if you’re using pistachios now is the time to crush and add them. Now you’re ready to pour the mixture into the ice-cream maker, if you don’t have an ice-cream maker the pour into a shollow tray and place in freezer, making sure you stir regularly to avoid it crystalising.

You can adapt this recipe to fit your tastes but do have a go and let me know how you get on.