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Peshawari Pista Ice Cream

Peshawari Pista Ice Cream

Here is another specialty from Pakistani cuisine, Peshawari Ice cream or keeping cricket/PSL spirit alive it can also be called Zalmi Ice Cream. It is famous throughout the country as Peshawari ice cream because this style of making ice cream is associated with the beautiful city of Peshawar. This city has such a unique and deep rooted cultural heritage and when it comes to food it has it’s own legacy. Many dishes hailing from this city are immensely popular nationally and internationally. Even on the blog, the all time most searched and most viewed recipe, Namkeen Gosht Replica belongs to Peshawar.

What makes this ice cream different? Well, I would say it is the technique involved in creating this creamy goodness and the list of ingredients. So let us talk about the technique first. This ice cream does not require whipped ingredients unlike regular, commercial ice cream which gives a distinctive texture to it. It is smooth and creamy but not as airy and light as other ice creams are. Secondly, ingredients. Those who are have tasted this cold dessert can identify this after having a single spoon …. How? There is this trademark creamy feeling left on the palate once a person eats this ice cream and this is because of the use of regular, unhomogenized dairy cream or as we call it malai or balai in Urdu meaning the layer of fat that collects at the surface when unhomogenized milk is boiled and cooled.

Ingredients list isn’t long. It requires milk, sugar, cream, pistachio with a drop of green color to enhance the appearance. Simply put, dissolve sugar in milk and mix in cream with ground pistachio and a touch of green color. Freeze for a few hours and then break this semi frozen mixture with an electric hand held blending stick or electric beaters and freeze again. Scoop and enjoy once completely frozen. Personally I prefer blending the ice cream mixture twice during the freezing time and then let it freeze completely.

I use homogenized, whole milk for this ice cream but you can use whole milk too and for dairy cream, I use half quantity of malai/balai and half of tetra pack cream which keeps the ice cream smoother with less ice crystals. Another thing to remember is that this ice cream melts quickly because there is no stabilizer in it plus the cream isn’t whipped either (which helps the frozen ice cream retain its shape for a little). If you do not have “home collected malai/balai” try breakfast cream which is quite thick and hopefully will serve the purpose. Make sure NOT to beat the mixture for more than suggested time because this ice cream has it’s own signature texture which only requires a little mixing. Whipping the cream or whipping the ice cream mixture will ruin the texture plus there is a chance that dairy cream/malai/balai might release water and form fat clumps if beaten too much.

Pishawari ice cream basically started with pistachio flavor but now there are so many options like almond, almond crunch, kulfa along with any possible flavor like vanilla, chocolate chip, fudge, caramel, strawberry even blueberry. So when summer actually arrives, create this magic at home and have fun exploring any flavor you like. Since there are no preservatives try consuming it within two weeks which, by the way, shouldn’t be a problem 🙂

Peshawari Pista Ice Cream

This family favorite ice cream is easier to make than you think so make some space in the freezer right now so you will run out of this dairy goodness this summer.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Pakistani
Keyword dairy ice cream, Gluten free, homemade ice cream, homemade peshawari ice cream, Peshawari ice cream, pistachio ice cream
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Author Heenie


  • 350 ml full fat milk, divided
  • cups granulated sugar *see notes
  • 400 ml tetra pack cream
  • 400 ml dairy cream/malai/balai
  • 100 gm pistachio, roughly ground
  • 1-2 drops green food color


  1. In a small sauce pan combine 250 ml milk with sugar.

  2. Place over medium low flame and stir to dissolve.

  3. Remove from the stove when sugar is dissolved, no need to bring it to a boil.

  4. Pour remaining 100 ml milk to heated milk to bring the temperature down.

  5. In a large mixing bowl, beat tetra pack cream for a minute.

  6. Add dairy cream/malai/balai and beat for 20-30 seconds or until combined.

  7. Pour in milk and sugar mixture with pistachio and a drop or two of green food color.

  8. Mix well, cover and freeze for about 3 hours.

  9. Take the ice cream out of the freezer and mix it with an electric hand held blender or electric beater for about 30 seconds. It is only to break large ice crystals. No whipping required.

  10. Cover and freeze for another 3 hours and repeat the previous step of mixing to break ice crystals.

  11. Cover and freeze again till completely frozen or overnight.

  12. Once frozen completely, scoop and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

* Sugar in Pakistan is sweeter and has bigger granules. Adjust sweetness if required.

The purpose of heating milk and sugar is only to dissolve sugar so do not over heat or boil it.

Do not beat cream for long because we are not creating a whipped texture for this particular ice cream. 

Over beating can ruin dairy cream/malai/balai as it will release its water and forms clumps of fat.

If there is no malai/balai try breakfast cream, which is available in many stores and it is not processed.

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