You may have spritzed a little rosewater on your skin, but eat it? Believe it or not, rosewater is frequently used in cooking throughout the Middle East. Maybe you’ve read about using rosewater in cooking but weren’t sure how to use it. Problem solved. Keep reading to find out how and when to add a few sprinkles into your next dinner dish.
Rosewater is certainly exotic, and you can’t get away from the fact that it has a floral taste. It is also complex, mysterious and adds a delightful kick to all sorts of foods and drinks. If you are tired of the same hum-drum spices, rosewater could be just what you’ve been looking for! The first recipe I used it in was oatmeal, believe it or not, and it was amazing!!!
What is Rosewater?
Rosewater is a traditional product that originated in ancient Persia (current Iran) and is made as part of the process of creating rose perfume. Rose petals are crushed and distilled to extract the rose essential oil. Rosewater is the liquid leftover from that distillation process.
Why Use Rosewater in Cooking?
Now you know where rosewater comes from and that it’s tasty, you may be asking why you should include it in your stable of flavorings in the kitchen. As mentioned, peoples in the Middle East have been using rosewater in a wide variety of capacities for eons. And here’s why:
- Provides large amounts of Vitamin A, C, D, and E, as well as B3, which lowers cholesterol.*
- Delivers flavonoids which help with gut inflammation and digestion issues, such as constipation and bloating.*
- Contains a significant number of antioxidants including flavonoids and anthocyanins that help fight free radicals.*
- Provides anti-aging benefits, such as reducing lines, wrinkles and dark circles under the eyes.*
- Enhances mood and soothes the nervous system.*
- Hydrates the skin from the inside out, making it healthier and younger-looking.*
- Delivers antioxidants that help reduce the length and severity of colds, flu, and sore throats.*
- Improves respiratory illnesses due to its bronchodilator effect.*
Convinced rosewater is worth adding to your culinary bag of tricks? I thought so!
How to Use Rosewater in Cooking
You can use rosewater in a vast range of sweet and savory dishes. It is a foundational ingredient in traditional sweets like Turkish delight, syrups, and baklava as well as salads, pilafs, and roast meats. Rosewater gives a delicate, rounded flavor that complements all the warm spices of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisines. Think saffron, ginger, cardamom, cumin, and cinnamon. It also jazzes up fruits, meats, and bitter greens.
The key thing to remember when using rosewater in your cooking is that it is strong! You need a light hand and use very little. Like saffron, cardamom, and vanilla, a little goes a long way. If you’re new to rosewater, you might want to break yourself in gently and add no more than a drop or two to a smoothie, pudding, or lemonade.
When you buy rosewater, make sure to read the label carefully so you don’t purchase rose syrup, which has a lot of added sugar and will add quite the wrong flavor to your recipes!
Suggestions for Desserts
Once you’re familiar with the subtle, but distinctive flavor of rose water, you can experiment by adding it to sweet dishes.
Rosewater works particularly well in:
- Rice pudding, especially when you add a few cardamom pods and a little cinnamon
- Ice creams, custards, and gelatos
- Granitas, sorbets, and popsicles
- Pound cake and brownies
- Pancakes, crepes, waffles, and French toast
- Cake frostings
- Flavored batters
- Fruits and fruit salads, especially those mixed with strawberries, melons, and peaches
- Jams, jellies, and other preserves
- Whipped cream
Pretty much any recipe that calls for vanilla or almond essence can be enhanced with rosewater. Play around with your favorite recipes and see how the warm spiciness of rosewater can add new depth to your cooking.
Suggestions for Savory Dishes
The next step in your rosewater journey is to try adding it to savory dishes. The subtle warmth of rosewater marries perfectly with warm spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and saffron in traditional dishes like biryani and pilaf.
There are many traditional recipes used through North Africa, the Middle East, India, and China that call for rosewater. Imagine serving a deliciously rich, spicy lamb or chicken stews and braises. Or give your usual roast chicken a Moroccan twist by basting it in a mixture of rosewater, saffron, cinnamon, hazelnuts, and honey.
You can also sprinkle a little rosewater over side dishes like roasted carrots or cauliflower, or saffron rice or couscous. Rosewater will add depth and sparkle to salad dressings for slaws, green salads, or citrus salads and makes a vibrant addition to a traditional Greek watermelon, feta, and mint salad.
Is Rosewater Safe?
Rosewater is perfectly safe to use on your skin and to consume in your food. As it is made through a distillation process, it is a completely pure product.
Rosewater makes an amazing addition to your favorite cocktails, especially gin-based ones. You can add rosewater to mojitos, daiquiris, and martinis to mix things up a bit.
It also works very well in non-alcoholic drinks, which is how it is used in countries like Iran (modern-day Persia) where alcohol is rarely consumed for religious reasons. A favorite Persian drink is Faloodeh Seeb which is refreshing and so easy to make. Simply put a half a dozen ice cubes in a tall glass with one peeled and grated apple and add rosewater to taste. Top it off with iced water, or soda or mineral water if you want fizz.
You can also add rosewater to homemade lemonade, mocktails, teas, or punch.
Rosewater has a wide variety of uses beyond the kitchen. It’s renowned for its natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties which make it a soothing ingredient in many skin care products. You can also apply it directly to soothe, hydrate, and refresh your skin. A product this versatile should be in everyone’s home.
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*The content of this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.