Monday, October 6, 2008

New Favorite Find: Rose Water; Vegan MoFo #5

I am just floored by the sophisticated flavor of rose water. I was able to aquire some from Assad's Mini Mart, a Pakinstani grocery store in Makati. At P80 (US$ 1.70) for 250 ml of "50% distillate of rose, 50% distilled water", it was a steal. The flowery scent is literally hypnotic. Try taking a teaspoon of that stuff straight up and it won't taste like anything. My friend Buens thinks it smells like a rosary; my brother Martin thinks it smells like a grotto. If you can get your hands on rose water, I totally encourage you to buy it!

since I acquired a copy of Isa and Terry's Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, I've been insistently teased by the book cover which has a picture of Pistachio Rosewater Cupcakes. With a bottle of rose water in hand I was finally able to bake these for my birthday dinner. My cupcakes mayn't have come out as pretty as theirs, but the taste was just perfect. The combination of pistachios and rosewater is a match made in heaven, seriously. I don't know why it's taken me this long to hear of and taste rose water! Those damn Middle Easterners have been hiding this stuff from us.

For those not in the know, according to
Wisegeek an
d Wikipedia, outside the Western hemisphere and English speaking countries, rose water is known as گلاب or Golâb in Persian, Gül suyu in Turkish, ماء ورد‎ Māʾ ward in Arabic, گلاب رس in Urdu, and розова вода in Bulgarian. It is the hydrosol or liquid remaining after crushed damask rose petals and water are distilled together to make rose oil, or attar of roses. The steam-distillation process was founded in Persia and Bulgaria during medieval times and was particularly used by Arabian doctor Avicenna in the 10th century.

It is used heavily in Middle Eastern cuisine -- Turkish delight or gulab jamuns; Iranian tea, ice cream, and cookies; Arabian and Indian milk-based beverages (lassi) and dishes (rice pudding); a Malaysian and Singaporean milk-based beverage (bandung); and Western European marzipan and madeleines. The ancient Romans bathed themselves in rose water and considered it to have anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties. It also figures largely in Muslim and Hindu religious ceremonies.

Please excuse the yellow-ness and darkness of this photo. These are the Pistachio Rose Water Cupcakes with Rose Water Buttercream that I made for my birthday dinner. I used a petal tip for the piped frosting so it really looked like a white rose on top of the cupcake. These were a big hit at the dinner and I feel encouraged to experiment more with this potion. Biting into a cupcake, I felt like I was in the Tashbaan in Narnia, having tea and cupcakes with Aravis as she told stories of the people and history of Calormen.

Things I'm planning to make with rose water:
Rose Water Cake
Rose Water Cookies
Rose Water Ice Cream
Rose Water Pudding
Rose Water Milk Tea

Any suggestions? I am literally in love with this stuff. Rose water must be what a love potion would smell like.

And speaking of love, have you ever wondered why the rose (as a flower) is associated with the female external reproductive organ? In Hinduism, the
Shiva lingam, or phallus, is bathed in rose water during the Mahshirvrati festival, which is the annual day of devotion to Shiva and the day Shiva marries the goddess Parvati. While Shiva is depicted as having both male and female attributes, he is considered a god rather than a goddess. So perhaps the lingam being bathed in rose water represents the act of love. Just a food for thought.


Bex said...

rose flavor is such a traditional flavor I feel all authentic when I cook with it. When in Greece we brought back some rose lakumi (Greek equivalent to Turkish Delight). Unfortunately one of the people we were sharing with said it reminded them of their grandmother which was then translated to they taste like grandma. I now only share simple things with them, pasta, bread, carrots :)

vegan domestic goddess said...

i know what you mean. i'm not greek or middle eastern but i really feel like i'm in one of those countries when i made those cupcakes. i suppose using traditional ingredients (such as rosewater, herbs and spices specific to a region / country) really helps transport us, the cooks or the eaters, to a different country. i love how we can experience a different culture just by cooking something traditional from a different country.

Kati said...

I think your cupcakes look lovely! I have yet to cook or bake anything with rose water, but spraying it in the air or on yourself is very soothing.

Bethany said...

those cupcakes have been haunting me too from the cover of the book. that and the chai cupcakes.

your cupcakes look really tasty. I now feel compelled to step up w/ these.

vegan domestic goddess said...

even if you don't dress up the cupcakes with piped frosting, they are just awesome. please try them and be converted!

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