Rose Water: An Intrinsic Part Of The Arab Culture

Posted by Lalit Kumar on Saturday, November 17, 2012

Many people think rose water comes from just the rose petals. It is actually the residual liquid that is generated when rose petals, buds and stems are distilled together. Rose water is produced and consumed in huge quantities in most Arab countries not just in their cooking but also in the cosmetics and perfume of the Middle East countries.  

Rose Water in Arabic Cuisine
Rose water is the key ingredient in several Middle Eastern dishes. Rose water syrup, which is the thicker version of rose water, is poured while still hot over several Arab desserts including baklava, kataif, kanafeh, awwamaat and macaroons. Many Arabic sweets derive their unique taste because of this particular addition. It intensifies the taste of honey and gives the pastries a deliciously floral flavor, which is so very distinctive. 

Another typical Arabic dish that uses rose water is Balaleet. This dish comprises of vermicelli, butter, sugar, crushed cardamom and almonds and is usually served with omelets for breakfast on Fridays and other holidays.

Other Arab Traditions Using Rose Water
Arabs are well known for their traditional hospitality and will go out of their way to treat you like royalty when you visit their home. One of the most charming customs involves using rose water.  When a guest enters an Arab house, the first thing the host does is sprinkle rose water into their palms as a way of saying ‘welcome’. They do this with an elaborately carved rose water sprinkler. Rose water is again sprinkled onto the hands after food to remove any lingering smell of food. 

Serving rose water extract at the table is one of the time-tested traditions of Ramadan. During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. During that time they do not even have a sip of water. The first sip they take during the day is only after the sun has set and rose water serves as a deliciously refreshing drink to restore hydration after a long day of fasting. It is also considered a gourmet drink at the high end restaurants in Arab countries. 

Rose Water in Skin Care
Through the years, generations of women have used rose water as part of their skin care routine. It is often used in baths to cure mild skin conditions and is found in a wide range of cosmetics today. Many women keep a small bottle handy in their purse. Dabbing cotton wool dipped in rose water is immensely refreshing and cooling and acts as an instant lift-me-up.   

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