Syrian ice cream
The ice cream is cold and is served with pistachios Image Credit: Shreya Bhatia/ Gulf News

What you need to know:

  • Gulf News is going on an ice cream trail this Ramadan.
  • Our 23rd pick of the month is Booza, or Syrian ice cream.
  • Be prepared for our list of 29 ice creams for 29 days.
  • End your fast and enjoy the Summer months with these sweet and cold treats.

Have you ever eaten stretchy ice cream? If your answer is no, then this is your chance.

We give you our 23rd pick of the month – Booza.

#23 Booza

What is it?

Booza is a kind of Arabic ice cream that has the consistency of cheese. It is different from regular ice cream and is actually stretchy and chewy in texture. The ingredients for Booza include milk, cream, and sugar. The ice cream is sticky because of an ingredient called salep, a kind of flour made from wild orchid tubers, which is added to the mixture. A plant resin called mastic or Arabian gum is also added, both of which adds to the thick texture. Mastic has been harvested for at least 2,500 years and during the Ottoman rule, mastic was worth its weight in gold.

Khushbu Shah, writer at a US-based online website Thrillist described Booza to be: “Less airy than most ice creams, resulting in a dense and compact product. It’s even denser than gelato.

“While Booza is stretchy, its texture is not rubbery ... but instead it is intensely creamy.”

It also melts slower than other ice creams.


Booza is traditional ice cream that is known as Arabic ice cream or Syrian ice cream. It is said to be similar to Turkish ice cream, however, Arabic mastic ice cream is said to be lighter in weight.

According to a report by Associated Press, Bakdash is an ice cream parlour in Damascus, Syria and it was established in 1885 at the Al-Hamidiyah Souq. It is famous for its pistachio-covered Booza. Specialists have been making the Syrian ice cream there for almost 130 years.

The ice cream is pounded with large wooden mallets in order to get the right consistency. The vendors usually beat their utensils with the mallet and create a beat to grab the attention of passersby and urge them to come have the ice cream.

pound ice cream
The ice cream is pounded using a mallet Image Credit: Shreya Bhatia/ Gulf News

An ice cream specialist’s view

According to Anas Ahmed Nafis, ice cream specialist at Arabesque, Dubai: “It is traditionally served with pistachios, however some people even serve it with cashew nuts. It is served with dried fruits, in a cone or cup.”

When asked about the beat used when making the ice cream, Nafis said: “I put on a show for the people. I want to show them how I’m making the ice cream and for them to come eat it.”

The ice cream is organic because it uses natural ingredients.

“Everyone has heard of the Bakdash ice cream shop in Syria. It is very popular and famous. Syrian ice cream can be stored and has a longer shelf-life as compared to other ice cream.”

Residents share their memories

Syrian national Mayada Rifai was eating Booza when she was interviewed.The 58-year-old tourist fondly remembers eating the ice cream as a child.

She said: “I’ve eaten this ice cream all my life, back home in Syria. I live in Canada now and every time I eat ice cream there with my family, I tell them, ‘This is not ice cream!’.

“I find Arabic ice cream to be totally different. The way it is made, the taste – everything. It reminds me of my childhood and of back home in general.”

Rifai’s daughter Shaza had heard a lot about the ice cream from her mother, and was trying it for the first time in Dubai.

The 20-year-old Canadian national said: “I’m not so amazed by it, to be honest. Its good but it is different than what we are used to in Canada. The texture is different and there are more nuts. But this is authentic Syrian ice cream.

“It is sticky and if you scoop some in a spoon and raise it, it will stay up. You can’t do that with normal ice cream.”

Bayan Shishakly, 23, has been to the Bakdash ice cream shop in Damascus and said that the ice cream there is good and the shop is always busy with people.

The Dubai resident said: “I’ve had this ice cream since I was a child. It is a part of Syrian culture. I used to have this especially in summer.

She added that nuts or dry fruits are added to the ice cream and in most Syrian sweets in general.


Price: Dh27 at Arabesque, The Dubai Mall.
Availability: Booza, in Souq Al Bahar serves booza ice cream that comes in a variety of flavours, including coconut, Nutella, almond and more (Dh 19). Damascus Sweets also serves Booza, however, they are not serving it for Ramadan.

Have you tried this ice cream before? What has your experience been? Write to us at