Bluenoon is Launching Gelato with Union Kitchen
Bluenoon Gelato is more than just a delicious frozen treat. For Hiba Akhtar and Hiba Jaafari, it is a reflection of who they are and where they came from. Everything, from the flavors to the texture, was inspired by their roots in Pakistan and Syria. Not only does this make for a fun nostalgic trip for them, but it is also a way to share their heritage and culture. After all, who doesn’t love exploring culture and history through ice cream?
Currently available at Union Kitchen locations and select MOM’s Organic Grocery stores, Bluenoon Gelato offers four flavors: Pistachio Baklava, Mango Lassi, Vanilla, and Dark Chocolate. While some of these flavors sound familiar, these aren’t your standard Italian gelato. Unlike its European counterpart, Arab and South Asian Gelatos’ base ingredient is typically booza. Made from mastic gum and salep, booza helps give the gelato a thick, elastic property. The ice cream-maker then uses a wooden pestle to pound the ice cream to further its elastic property. This style of gelato has been incredibly popular in the Arab world for centuries. Combine this with Arab-inspired flavors, and the result is a delicious Arabic gelato.
The story of Bluenoon Gelato begins in 2015, when the two women met through mutual friends. Fondly remembering the flavors experienced during childhood visits to Syria and Pakistan, Akhtar and Jaafari quickly bonded over their shared love of gelato. In 2018, the two women decided to take the big leap together into the world of food. They formalized their early ice cream and gelato experimentation by attending a two week training course at the Carpigiani Gelato University in Chicago and then joining Union Kitchen.
Of course, declaring your intentions to make authentic food is the easy part. Actually executing it is much harder, as Akhtar and Jaafari soon found out. Getting the gelato to come out exactly as they wanted it to was often a challenge.
“There’s a lot of trial and error when it comes to certain flavors,” Jafaar said in an interview. “We tried a gulab jamun flavor and it didn't really translate to gulab jamun. Our friends devoured it, but we weren’t happy with the texture.” Sometimes the gelato would come up with a gritty texture. Other times, it would be closer to an ice pop. They were determined to create that classic gelato smoothness.
Unsatisfied, the two friends decided to head back to the Kitchen and reflect on the lessons they learned from a lot of taste testing and advice. Committed to excellence, the two women are reworking their formula to find the right balance between their own vision and making things people want. They plan on adding the gulab jamun flavor, along with the Syrian-inspired tamarind-rose water sorbet flavor, in the near future. In the meantime, the original four Blue Noon flavors: Pistachio Baklava, Mango Lassi, Vanilla, and Dark Chocolate, are available at Union Kitchen locations.