During spring Raymonda’s garden bursts into an oasis of colour and sweet aromas as her roses bloom.
Raymonda NakhlehRose Producer & School Teacher
“I would like people to know how to cook better and preserve their food in a way that minimizes nutrients loss. I would also like people to learn basic agriculture and for each to start planting their own food.”
A school teacher by day, Raymonda demonstrates and encourages others to also produce some of their own food, through her rose cultivation project, making rose syrup, rose water and dried rose petals.
Rose water dates back to the Middle Ages, when Islamic chemists created a method of distilling rose petals with steam. The sweet aroma that it brings to dishes is widely valued in both sweet and savory dishes of the Middle East, North Africa and North India. However, it was also widely used in Europe and the US, as a flavor additive for desserts and pastries, before vanilla became widely available in 1841.
Meghli is traditionally served to new mothers to increase milk production and alleviate gas. Following this tradition it is also eaten at Christmas time to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Ingredients - serves 6
1/2 cup cashews, roughly chopped
1/2 cup slithered almonds
1/2 cup unsalted pistachio nuts, whole
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp Rose water
1 Tbsp butter
175g white sugar
1 tsp glucose
1/8 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 to 2 tablespoons of crushed dried rose petals
1 cup powdered rice
8 cups water
2 tsp rose water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp powdered caraway
1 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp aniseed
1) Line a tray with baking paper and grease with oil. Also grease a large knife and the bottom of a steel cup, which will be used to flatten the brittle.
2) Over medium flame, heat the water, rose water, butter, sugar and glucose in a thick bottom saucepan. Stir gently with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved.
3) Once the sugar has dissolved stop stirring the mixture and increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Allow the mixture to bubble without stirring until it becomes a very light golden colour.
4) Working quickly, stir in the bicarbonate soda, followed by the nuts. Coat the nuts with the caramel and immediately turn onto the baking paper and flatten using the bottom of the steel cup, to a thickness of about 1cm.
5) Sprinkle the rose petals on top and press in. Whilst still warm, mark the brittle into desired shapes with greased knife. When cool, break brittle along marked lines.
6) Store in an airtight container
1) Add aniseed to water and boil for 5 minutes to infuse. Strain to remove the aniseed and allow to cool slightly
2) Add remaining ingredients and return to the stove. Cook the mixture over a medium flame, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.
3) Once it has thickened slightly, reduce heat to low and continue stirring until it thickens further to the desired consistency. To check the consistency pour a teaspoon of the mixture on a cold plate. The mixture should only slightly spread.
4) Pour mixture into small custard bowls and place in the fridge to set.
When serving, decorate with nuts, shredded coconut or raisins.
Rose water is believed to have several medicinal benefits such as analgesic, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory. It is a non-caloric healthy drink.
Dr. Marta Guasch-FerréDietician and PhD in Nutritional Epidemiology