Last evening was well spent with me playing in the kitchen and baking for the weekend.
We have my in-laws coming to stay and I always like to have some homemade treats readily available when we have family & guests over.
I decided on ‘Sohan’ which is a favourite childhood sweet of mine. Whenever my dad or my uncle visit home they always bring me back a few boxes of it and it never lasts longer than a few days in my house (my mouth is watering as I type which is probably why I will never again be a size 8!)
As rose can be quite an acquired taste and what with it being Valentines day I thought I would attempt to tell a little bit of its story in Persian cooking whilst I wait ever so impatiently for them to set.
Rose is one of the main flavours of Persian cooking along with Turmeric, Saffron, Pomegranate and Cardamon. Pull up a chair at any Iranian restaurant and you’ll be sure to find something flavoured with Rose on the menu.
The use of rose in Persian cooking dates back as far as the Persian Empire and can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes or indeed just as a beautiful decoration. It comes in various different forms:
- Rose-water – which is actually a bi product of rose oil and is made by steeping the petals in water. Rose water is most commonly used to infuse flavour into a whole dish, cake, sweets such as ‘Gaz’ which is a type of nougat, ‘Sohan’ which is a form of brittle (recipe below), or ice cream
- Dried rose petals – ground into a sugar or into a savoury spice blend such as ‘advieh‘
- Fresh rose petals – candied for decoration, rose-water jam, or one of my favourites – a rose and cucumber gin and tonic which tastes really clean, crisp and elegant. My Uncle told me a few weeks ago when we were shopping for ingredients together that my Grandmother used to infuse it and drink it in her tea.
Each of the above has a different taste and depth and never fails to amaze me how versatile one ingredient can be.
However its story doesn’t stop there. For years Rose has been used not only in cooking but medicinally, as a top note in some perfumes, to show people that you love them or to just make them smile. It is such value to Iranians that it is also used to clean for religious ceremonies.
So if you are one of the lucky people receiving a bunch of beautiful roses today I hope you have a little smile and think about their story too 🙂 Happy Valentines to my lovely readers.
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1/2 cup unsalted butter into cubes
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup double cream
1/4 maple syrup
2 tablespoons raw almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 1 teaspoon rose water
2 teaspoons ground cardamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped pistachio
2 tablespoons barberries (sour cherries) – optional
Line a baking sheet with baking paper
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, cream, and maple syrup.
Cook over a medium heat stirring continuously with a wooden spoon.
Bring to a boil (around 3-5 minutes)
Add the almonds, saffron/rose water, cardamon and salt.
Increase the heat and continue cooking without disturbing for around 5-10 minutes until the mixture is a deep peanut butter shade of golden brown and the top is getting thicker and bubbling. This last stage is so important as if undercooked it will be elsaticy and chewy and overcooked it will burn.
Remove from heat and pour onto baking tray immediately and cover with the garnish/ allow to cool completely and break into pieces. Keep refridgerated for around 3 weeks in an airtight container. Nooshe Jaan! 🙂