Tuesday, 23 December 2008


Rose water is the aqueous remnants of the distillation of rose petals. Rose water was first produced by Muslim chemists in the medieval Islamic world through the distillation of roses, for use in the drinking and perfumery industries. Crushed rose petals are steam distilled, which then produces the essential rose oil and the rose water. Rose water is used to flavour food, as a component in some cosmetic and medical preparations and for religious purposes throughout Europe and Asia.

Rose water has a very distinctive flavour and is used heavily in South Asian, West Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine—especially in sweets. For example, rose water gives loukoumia (Turkish Delight) and gulab jamuns their distinctive flavours. In Iran it is also added to tea, ice cream, cookies and other sweets in small quantities, and in the Arab world and India it is used to flavour milk and dairy-based dishes such as rice pudding. In Malaysia and Singapore, rose water is mixed with milk, sugar and pink food colouring to make a sweet drink called air bandung. In Western Europe, rose water is sometimes used to flavour both marzipan and a shell-shaped French cake known as madeleine. Rose water is frequently used as replacement for red wine and other alcohols in cooking by Muslim chefs.

A rose water ointment is occasionally used as an emollient, and rose water is sometimes used in cosmetics such as cold creams. Zamzam water, used to clean the Kaaba, a holy shrine of Islam located in Mecca, includes rose water as a component. Rose water is used in some Hindu rituals as well.

Rose water and rose essence are different, but related flavourings. Rose essence is a much more concentrated form of rose water and is quite strong. If you don’t have rose water handy, a rough conversion is 5ml of rose essence is equivalent to 15ml of rose water.

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