The article “Birthplace of ice cream: Persians are believed to have introduced the art of frozen desserts” was originally published in the Indian Express News Outlet of New Delhi on November 9, 2018.

Kindly note that the version of the article printed further below has images and accompanying captions that do not appear in the original Indian Express News outlet.

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Ever wondered where the ice cream we happily slurp came from? While the exact origin is unknown, history traces the arrival of ice cream in Europe and then America by the way of Arab invasion of Sicily in the 8th century. The origins of the ice cream refreshment can be traced to ancient Iran where the technology to manufacture and store ice was invented as far back as 400 BCE or during the tenure of the Achaemenid Empire.

A video analysis of the history of the ancient Yakhchāl ice manufacturing centers in Iran (Source: Leaf of Life in YouTube).

It is believed that Arabs who had conquered Persian Empire at the time took the age-old Persian refreshment called Sharbat and enriched the existing mix of fruit syrup and snow chilled honey with milk and sugar. This was the conception of the modern day granita and gelato.

Samples of the Persian Sharbat which historically dates back to centuries (Source: Gourmet Traveler).

Persia, that is modern-day Iran has been making ice cream for the last 2,000 years. Yakchal, a cone-shaped structure in the country is believed to be the inspiration for the design of ice cream. The underground space of the building was used for storing ice cream around 400 BC as the heat-resistant material of the structure helped preserve it.

A Yakhchal in Iran (Source: Caleb Strom in Ancient Origins, CC by SA 2.0). For more see the article “Ancient Advanced technology: 2,400-Year-Old Yakhchals Kept Ice in the Desert”…

Iranians used to and still relish an ice cream dessert called Faloodeh that is made of starch and syrup with ice. In the past, ice was stored in big bowls and milk in smaller ones and by rotational motions, the cold was transferred from ice to milk. This process helped the milk turn into crystals and then, finally, into ice cream.

A sample of the Faloodeh (also known as Paloodeh and Faluda) (Source: Bastani Tehran).

It is believed that the process and recipe for making the Persian Faloodeh ice cream then traveled to Italy, who made machines to make ice cream making easier.

Water color graphic art by Bartolomeo Pinelli (1781-1835) of a Street vendor selling Sorbet to children in Naples, Italy in the early 1800s (Source: Borys Voznytskyi Lviv National Art Gallery).

A traditional Iranian ice cream contains sheep’s milk, sugar, saffron and rose water. If you are feeling ambitious and want to try your own version of Iranian ice cream, below are two recipes from a cornucopia of Persian delicacies.


Bastani (Akbar Mashti) Ice Cream


  • 2 cups – Heavy cream
  • 1 can – Condensed milk
  • 1 tbsp – Rose water
  • 1/4 tsp – Saffron
  • 1 cup – Pistachios, chopped


  1. Add the heavy cream in a bowl and blend it till it thickens. Then, add condensed milk to it.
  2. Mix well and add one tbsp of rose water.
  3. Dissolve 1/4 tsp of saffron in one tbsp hot water and add to the mix.
  4. Add the chopped pistachios to the bowl and mix well.
  5. Transfer the mix to a bread loaf baking pan, cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
  6. Garnish with rose petals the next day and serve.

Step by step video for how to make the Persian Akbar Mashti ice cream (Source: I.CreativeMySpace in YouTube).




  • 1 cup – Sugar
  • 1/4 cup – Rose water
  • 100g – Rice noodles
  • 1 – Lemon


  • Mix sugar in a bowl and add one cup drinking water to it.
  • Dissolve the mixture on heat and add 1/4 cup of rose water.
  • Store in freezer.
  • To make faloodeh, take rice noodles in a pan and add boiling water to them. Simmer the mixture on a flame for five to ten minutes.
  • Drain the noodles. Take out the frozen sugar mixture and mix it with the noodles.
  • Store in the freezer again. When you take it out, squeeze one lemon on top of it and serve.

Step by step video for how to make the Persian Fallodeh Shirazi ice cream (Source: in YouTube).