I fell back in love with rose water over the lovely long Easter break. Although I am not sure I ever fell out of love with it. Maybe I should just say we got reacquainted.
I made a semolina pistachio rose water cake (from my favourite Sweet). And then served it with rose water crème fraiche. It was popular* – it is a very complex cake with lots of flavours and just a joy to eat. Not too sweet. Nutty. Rose-water-y. Divine.
Anyway, it led me to thinking about rose water. It is one of those things that I think you either love or hate. Some people liken it to eating soap. Or a bath cube**
However, I think if it is used correctly and in the right quantity, it can make your whole life beautiful. It is strong. STRONG. So you need to be judicious. Otherwise you will end up in the aforementioned soap-eating place.
*disappeared, crumbs only remained.
** OMG do you remember bath cubes? They were quite the thing to buy your mother if you needed to get her a present and you only had a dollar. You could get three in a box.
What is it?
Rose water is simply water flavoured by steeping rose petals in water (fancy scientific term for what happens when you steep any fresh flower, fruit, plant in water = hydrosol). Other common hydrosols include orange blossom water and lavender water. The gorgeous floral flavoured water is what remains after the essential oils are extracted (for things like perfume).
You can make your own rose water (if you are one of those people who has roses in their garden and has managed to keep them alive).
The Persian word for rose water is golāb. In India, Iran and other places on the sub-continent it is called gulab (gul = flower, ab = water).
Rose water is used for culinary purposes, cosmetics, medical preparations and religious purposes throughout Europe and Asia.
Where is it from?
The cultivation of fragrant flowers for perfume may date back as far as Sassanid Persia (and here we are talking around 200-600 AD – so like, heaps ages ago).
It is said that the ancient Greeks, Romans and Phoenicians considered rose gardens to be as important as crops and orchards.
Mass production of rose water through steam distillation started in medieval Islamic times, which then led to more lucrative trade. Rose water became a staple ingredient in the aromatic cuisines of the Middle East as well as North Africa and North India.
Does it have any health benefits?
From a holistic perspective, rose water is known for its healing properties – for example add it to tea to soothe a sore throat. Some people use it for relieving stress – I would defy anyone not to take a big whiff of it and instantly feel calmer and happier!
It’s also believed to promote healthy skin, so you often see it mentioned as an ingredient in face creams and the like.
The flavour of rose water is pretty… ummm… rosey. Haha. Seriously.
What does it go with?
In sweet world, it can go anywhere, really. It is particularly good combined with vanilla. It is good with fruit-based things, particularly fleshy fruits. And creamy things like panacotta or ice cream. It adds depth to jams.
Add it to your boozy concoctions as it will cut through bitterness. Or as a spritzer… maybe make it into a rose syrup for some extra delectability.
When rose water is baked it changes and becomes more subdued (wouldn’t you become more subdued if you were subjected to 200 deg temperatures?). So it then comes into its own as a savoury additive. It will complement aromatics like cardamom, coriander, ginger, saffron. Anything in the Middle Easter/Moroccan/African kind of area and you are firmly into rose water’s happy place. I haven’t cooked this roast chicken with saffron and hazelnuts but it looks like something we all need to try.
The fun fact
Rose water is frequently used as a halal substitute for red wine and other alcohol in cooking.
I am really not sure what is going on in my life, but I seriously have no rants to give. NONE. I can sense the disappointment 🙂