Rosewater will be the theme in my posts during February. I will be posting interesting and delicious dishes using this great ingredient. Everybody loves roses right? Well, what better way to add more roses to your life than to add them to your food! Although lemonade is associated with summer and picnics, who says you can’t enjoy a glass of this tasty beverage in February, right? Just think of rosewater lemonade as the “lemonade of love”.
My first brush with rosewater as a food ingredient was about 3 years ago. At the University where I work we host Fullbright students every year. That particular year, our Fulbright was from Tunisia. He brought gifts of pastries from one of his hometown bakeries. The pistachio cookies and baklava were infused with rosewater. I must say, I was completely blown away by the delicate and fragrant taste. I wanted more; I wanted the entire box, but was afraid to appear like a glutton.
Roses have been around for centuries. There is physical evidence found in Egyptian tombs in the form of wreaths. Cleopatra was a lover of roses. It is said she filled the floors of entire rooms with rose petals. Her display of opulence was used to seduce Marc Anthony and she succeeded! The sails of her barge were sprayed with rosewater so the scent of roses would announce her presence in not so subtle ways.
Rosewater is the product of distilling rose petals, a byproduct of the perfume industry. Although its use has been around for centuries, the process was perfected by the Persian physician Avicenna (Ibn Sina) during the Middle Ages. Rose syrup, another ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking can be achieved by adding sugar to rosewater, but that is the subject of another post!
Rosewater Lemonade is not only refreshing, it also has an interesting flavor. It’s tart, sweet and floral all at the same time. In one word: Delightful. It really is a nice change from the everyday lemonade we know and love.
Rosewater is used in Persian, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine; it is employed in sweet and savory dishes alike. Kheer-an Indian rice pudding wouldn’t be the same without rosewater. Rosewater is also added to tea, ice cream and cookies. I will have to try out the ice cream with my new ice cream maker.
Rosewater is also popular in mixed drinks. In savory foods it provides a subtle floral quality as well as depth of flavor. So what savory dishes can you use rosewater in? Well, for starters: stews, cous cous, and pilafs come to mind. A rosewater vinaigrette would be lovely wouldn’t it?
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 5 cups of water
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp. rosewater
- In a medium saucepan heat 1 cup of water, lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Remove from heat and chill for one hour.
- Place in pitcher and add the remaining 4 cups of water, and the rosewater. Stir well.
- Serve on ice with lemon wedges.
- If desired add 2-3 drops of red food coloring.