Rose and Cardamom: The perfect pair
As we explore more Pakistani desserts I want to briefly touch upon the use of rose and cardamom in the cuisine and how these flavors are used especially when it comes to sweet treats!
It's not uncommon to see the use of rose across many cuisines of the world. As well as Indian/Pakistani cooking, rose is used across Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and European cuisines, as a spice for sweet and savory foods. Think Turkish delight, rose herbal teas, cakes/biscuits garnished with rose petals, baklava! This aromatic ingredient brings its unique flavor, pretty colors, fragrance and sweetness. Rose can come in the form of dried rose petals, rose water and rose syrup. In South Asian cuisine rose water is used in foods like Gulab Jamun (rose sweet), Kheer (rice pudding), Kulfi (ice cream), Rooh Afza (rose drink concentrate) and Falooda (traditional drink/dessert). I keep a bottle of rose water in my pantry and love the fragrance and flavour it provides! Rose petals can make a beautiful garnish to these foods too!
Cardamom (green cardamom) is one of those spices we desis (especially the younger ones) have a love/hate relationship with! The amount of memes I have seen about biting into an elaichi when eating biryani. I will agree, its a crushing feeling, but, it is a beautiful spice and where would our food be without it?! Similar to spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, cardamom is used in sweet and savory Pakistani cooking. You can either use the whole dried pods, crush it and use the seeds only, or use cardamom powder. I will be honest, cardamom powder is pricey! But it’s worth the investment and a little goes a long way, I love adding half to a teaspoon of cardamom powder to desserts like gajar ka halwa, kheer and kulfi. These desserts would not taste the same without cardamom! And if you add green cardamom pods/seeds to tea, its so delicious and almost level 1 of masala chai!
So that was a brief introduction to these spices used in South Asian desserts. What is your favorite food that has rose or cardamom and let me know how these spices are used in your culture too!