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Meet a Greek Classic: Kaimaki, chewy ice cream with mastic flavor

It used to be the only ice cream Greeks knew for several decades. Kaimaki, a chewy ice cream Greeks love to eat with sour cherry syrup and sprinkles of pistachios or sweet almonds.The ice cream has a decent flavor of mastic.

This specific ice cream is always elastic and it never freezes into a solid block. So, you know, that you have to leave outside the deep freeze for several minutes so that you can scoop it out. Kaimaki never lets you down. You can dive your soup spoon in the box and enjoy a quick mouthful in a second.

Kaimaki is a special kind of ice cream distinguished due its two of its main ingredients: Mastic that gives it a special flavor but also elasticity and Salep, flour made of root tubes the early purple orchid that serves as thickening agent.

Other ingredients are cream and sugar, no eggs.

Even if it melts, Kaimaki has always a creamy consistency.

Strictly between us: I had left the ice cream to “melt” in order to take a picture and show you what I mean. However, while the ice cream was melting I took advantage of the waiting time, I started uploading and editing the Kaimaki pictures on my PC. Taking away from the visual satisfaction, I suddenly remembered the melting ice on the kitchen table. I rushed to it, grabbed the bowl with the softly melted ice cream that had perfectly incorporated the syrup and the almonds and I … ate it as quickly as I could.

Blame my greed. Apologies.

Kaimaki has always been served with sour cherry syrup for extra freshness and sprinkles of powdered pistachios or toasted sweet almonds, crashed.

The problem with toasting or roasting almonds at home is that I roast a batch, let them cool down and start eating them as soon as they are cooled down. When it’s time to serve ice cream or use them otherwise, I 98% need to toast another batch.

Anyway, Kaimaki is not a Greek invention but a Turkish one. It has its home in the city of Kahramanmaras or Maras in the South-West coast of Turkey.

Kaimaki or Kaymak means ‘cream’ in Turkish.

It is widely believed that the recipe for this special ice cream came to Greece together with the millions of Greeks who were enforced to leave Turkey in 1922-1924.

Kaimaki is Greece is softer than the one consumed in Turkey.

For decades, Kaimaki was the only ice cream available in Greece for the average Greek. It was in the late 1960’s, early 1970’s when new style ice cream like the vanilla or chocolate parfait entered

It is worth trying it while in Greece to have a joy in its special flavor.

Just order: Παγωτό Καϊμάκι με σιρόπι βύσσινο και αμύγδαλα/φυστίκι (pistachio). “Pagoto Ka-ee-maki me siropi vyssino kai amygdalo or fistikia”. Most probably you will find it with almonds (αμύγδαλα).

By the way, I don’t think it’s worth making it at home as it needs a special procedure of “battering.” Therefore, just buy it from the supermarket, the kiosk or the candy or ice-cream shop, add the syrup and the sprinkles of your taste and fill a large bowl with all these. As I do.


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