Jun 11, 2011

Presenting Rose - Queen of Flowers!

Few weekends back, I was at the rose garden in San Jose. Walking through the sweet scented air, surrounded by roses in full bloom, I was naturally thinking about how unique and versatile the rose is. For many, it may be a surprise that the rose is a very popular ingredient used in India.

Fresh rose petals are often added to dairy based sweets. Chopped petals are mixed with paneer and cardamom to make mouth-watering sandesh while kheer is often garnished with fresh rose petals. Rose essence is commercially extracted to make gulab jal or rose water used to make rose lassi. Rose water is also used to hydrate dry eyes during hot summers and is believed to soothe eye infections like conjunctivitis. Rose flavored sweet concentrate is routinely added to cold milk to make a rose milk-shake served to discerning guests. Rose flavored ice-cream is also very popular. And on and on…

Perhaps, the most unique use of the rose is in imparting flavor to a "paan". The "paan" is an ubiquitous after-food finisher that doubles as dessert and breath freshener. In its simplest avatar, it is a betel leaf smothered with a mixture of kattha, choona and chaman bahar (rose powder) topped with a mixture of dry betelnuts. The dessert paan is stuffed with gulkand - candied rose petals. This betel leaf filled with gulkand and spices is then folded over into a triangular shape. Tucked away into a corner of the mouth the paan dissolves slowly, leaving behind fresh breath. What would the paan be without the queen of flowers - the beautiful rose!


chaman bahar - brand of rose powder
choona - slaked lime
gulab jal - rose water
gulkand - candied rose petals, word literally means sweet flower
katthha - areca nut paste
kheer - rice and milk pudding flavored with cardamom; served hot or chilled
lassi - sweet beverage made with yoghurt, water and sugar; sometimes flavored with fruit pulp or flavors
paneer - fresh farmer's cheese that's been pressed to remove the water
sandesh - fresh farmers cheese kneaded till it has a pudding like consistency. Typically mixed with nuts, flavorings, fruit and sometimes color to make delectable dessert.


Food Gal said...

I didn't know roses had so many medicinal qualities. There's an Australian company that makes a lovely facial freshener with rose water in it. Really does soothe and make your skin feel so wonderful.

zaeka said...

@Carolyn- a bottle of rose water is to be found with almost every grandma in India. My granny thinks rose water can soothe symptoms for almost any tropical heat discomfort :)