In my years living and working here, I’ve developed a definite appetite for the Afghan version of ice cream and frozen treats. There are two kinds of frozen goodies that I love the best, though. The first are the roadside popsicles.
Children and old men push around insulated carts, which come in two main flavors; Herat and Peyman. Herat is professionally made, sophisticated and relatively expensive. Peyman is locally made, with so-so quality control and are cheap. Of course, Peyman is far superior in flavor, etc. compared to Herat. Basically, while Herat popsicles are refined and homogenous, Peyman consists of a bunch of fruit mixed with water, sticks put in it and frozen. And the wrappers hardly ever match the flavor, though mostly the flavor is more orange than anything else. And delicious.
Some Peyman popsicles are mostly fruit, and some can be predominantly water, but part of that is the appeal; the thrill of discovery. Peyman frozen products can be identified by the red push carts, while Herat are white. The blue push carts can be a mixture of Peyman and Herat and just about anything else.
Now, as far are regular ice cream is concerned, there is only one kind I care about, and that is zhelah ژاله. Zhelah is ice cream made on the spot, flavored with cardamom, and has vermicilli noodles in it. Making zhelah is more like performance art than anything else. The best place to get it, imo, is in Shar-e Naw park, where the zhelah maker is extremely talented. I’ve filmed him and put it on YouTube, so if you can access it, click on the following link:
After they make this work of art, they dump 100% cream on it, which freezes to make icicles that artfully hang off the creamy delicious dish.
So, if you ever have the chance to stop at a mobile vendor or at an zhelah stand, I would recommend taking advantage of the opportunity to sample some. OBTW, a Peyman popsicle runs 5 Afs, or around 10 cents and zhelah will cost around 50 Afs, or $1.