Rose water is the hydrosol portion of the distillate of rose petals, a by-product of the production of rose oil for use in perfume. It is used to flavour food, as a component in some cosmetic and medical preparations, and for religious purposes throughout Europe and Asia. Rose syrup is made from rose water, with sugar added.
Rose water was first produced by Muslim Persian chemist Avicenna in the medieval Islamic world through the distillation of roses, for use in the drinking and perfumery industries. Until 350 years ago rose water, or gol-aab, was only distilled in Persia; at this time machinery and knowledge were exported to the Ottoman Empire and then Syria and Bulgaria; at its height, Persia sent thousands of jars of rose water to Muslim countries.
Since ancient times, roses have been used medicinally, nutritionally, and as a source of perfume. The ancient Greeks, Romans and Phoenecians considered large public rose gardens to be as important as croplands such as orchards and wheat fields.
Rose perfumes are made from rose oil, also called attar of roses, which is a mixture of volatile essential oils obtained by steam-distilling the crushed petals of roses, a process first developed in Iran (Persia). Rose water is a by-product of this process. It has been suggested that the Persian polymath Avicenna discovered how to make rose water in the tenth century.
Rose water has a very distinctive flavour and is used heavily in Persian and Middle east cuisine—especially in sweets such as nougat, raahat and baklava. For example, rose water is used to give some types of Turkish delight their distinctive flavours.
The Cypriot version of mahalebi uses rosewater.[unreliable source?] In Iran, it is also added to tea, ice cream, cookies and other sweets in small quantities, and in the Arab world, Pakistan and India it is used to flavour milk and dairy-based dishes such as rice pudding. It is also a key ingredient in sweet lassi, a drink made from yogurt, sugar and various fruit juices, and is also used to make jallab. In Malaysia and Singapore, rose water is mixed with milk, sugar and pink food colouring to make a sweet drink called bandung. Rose water is frequently used as a halal substitute for red wine and other alcohols in cooking.
Marzipan has long been flavoured with rose water. Marzipan originated in the Middle East and arrived in Western Europe by the Middle Ages; it continues to be served as a postprandial snack. Rose water was also used to make Waverly Jumbles. American and European bakers enjoyed the floral flavouring of rose water in their baking until the 19th century when vanilla flavouring became popular.
Cosmetic and medicinal use
Medicinal use-Ayurveda: In India, rose water is used as eye drops to clear them. Some people in India also use rose water as spray applied directly to the face for natural fragrance and moisturiser, especially during winters. It is also used in Indian sweets and other food preparations (particularly gulab jamun). Rose water is often sprinkled in Indian weddings to welcome guests.
Rose water is used as a perfume in religious ceremonies (Hindu, Muslim and Zoroastrian). Water used to clean the Kaaba, the Qibla for Muslims located in Mecca, combines Zamzam water with rose water as an additive. In the Indian subcontinent during Muslim burials, rose water is often sprinkled in the dug grave before placing the body inside. Rose water is used in some Hindu rituals as well. Rose water also figures in Christianity, particularly in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Depending on the origin and type of manufacturing method of rosewater obtained from the sepals and petals of Rosa damascena from Central Iran through steam distillation, the following monoterpenoid and alkane components could be identified with GC-MS: mostly citronellol, nonadecane, geraniol and phenyl ethyl alcohol, and also henicosane, 9-nonadecen, eicosane, linalool, citronellyl acetate, methyleugenol, heptadecane, pentadecane, docosane, nerol, disiloxane, octadecane, and pentacosane. Usually, phenylethyl alcohol is responsible for the typical odour of rose water but not always present in rosewater products.
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