The casual cook may find himself perplexed by a new recipe that calls for rosewater. This pungent, unusual extract is a key ingredient in many ethnic dishes that provides a distinct smell and sweet taste.
Rosewater is a fragrant flavoring often used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. It gives food and drinks a distinct, rosy flavoring and smell.
Although rosewater is used mostly in ethnic foods today, it was used in the U.S. during the Victorian era to flavor icing until vanilla was more widely available. It was an ingredient in the favorite cookie of President James Monroe, called a "Waverly Jumble."
Types of Dishes
Rosewater appears in many Indian and Lebanese dishes, especially desserts. Rosewater also is an ingredient in drinks, perhaps most notably in the "lassi," an Indian yogurt drink. Food & Wine magazine offers a cocktail twist on the traditional lassi on its website.
Closely related to rosewater are powdered roses, rose oil and rosewater tonic. However, these items are often used as beauty products instead of cooking ingredients.
Where to Buy
Rosewater for cooking is a specialty item found most readily at gourmet grocery stores, ethnic food stores or online vendors.