Creamy, soft and velvety like a fragrant bouquet of roses. The luscious summer with fresh rose petals.
Late afternoons of my very Indian summers were spent scraping out ice creams from metal containers. I would set ice creams early in the morning or the night before. What I would call ice cream would be frozen juice, or Rasna Cola or anything as simple as fresh summer fruits like watermelon or mango. Somewhere between three and four in the afternoon when I woke up from a lazy nap, the ice cream seller rolled his cart down the road. Only we were not allowed to buy any of that ice cream from the street vendor.
This was our way to our gratify our cravings on those hot afternoons. Either the scraped out ice creams from the metal container or a tall glass of drink. Sometimes maa would make watermelon juice with chunks of watermelon in them, some days it would be mango or chilled lychees.
For other days there was be Rooh Afza.
Rooh Afza is a syrup that sweetens and cools the summers of the Indian subcontinent. It is officially known to “refresh the soul”. With a beautiful mingling of fruity and floral scents and a lace of herbal taste, it is could be as well called the ”enchanter” of the hearts. It is for a reason that the Indian summers are painted with this pink rosy syrup.
It is not just the deep red and the flavors it has to offer, the herbal ingredients in it also act as a cooling agent for the summer heat.
Perhaps the very ”enchanter” quality of rose cast spell on A and me. We sat on the benches under the whirring fan in Ralli’s, in Esplanade Kolkata. When the sun beat down on the roads and we were tired of walking around no where, lost in ourselves, dreaming our dreams, we would have walked into this place and cooled ourselves down over glasses of rose flavored drink in tall glasses filled with ice shaved from an enormous block that rested on a burlap on the floors of the inner courtyard of the restaurant. Or some days when we could afford it, we would order Kulfi and Falooda, that was served with a good drizzle of the rosy red syrup. There is something oddly refreshing about this old place.
Life was good and taken care of. Some good friend called out “proxy” in Mr. Ghosh’s class in St. Xavier’s College, where I was supposed to be at that time leaning on broad, old wooden benches concentrating on Beowulf or Canterbury Tales. Instead I was at Ralli’s, scooping on the rose syrup drizzled kulfi with A: making the best of my summer.
Rose is the sweet flavor of summer. Of love and of dessert.
We lined up at the gelato corner the other day. I peeked while I waited, to see what I wanted and I saw this beautiful pink sprinkled with deeper pink sugar crystals. It was Rose. I heart leaped. Slowly churned cream with the oriental flavors of home…My Indian summers held hands with summers in North America.
As we sat enjoying our ice creams, and A took a fond bite off the mound of the pink rose, he casually said that we should be making rose ice cream.
Why not? The roses are blooming, a bottle of Rooh Afza is on the shelf and it is summer.
Rose Flavored Ice Cream with Rose Petals
Ingredients: (makes about 2 quarts)
- 200 ml heavy whipping cream/double cream + 200 ml half and half (or 400 ml heavy/double cream if you want it thick and very creamy)
- 1/4 cup Rooh Afza, bottled Rose flavored syrup available in Indian/Pakistani grocery stores
- 3/4 cup sugar, or adjust to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup fresh organic rose petals
- 2 teaspoon rose water
- nuts, pistachios or almonds or both (coarsely ground) + more for garnish -
Combine rose petals (make sure the flowers are not sprayed on, they are organic and well washed) and sugar; Give it good shake, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to sit in the refrigerator for about thirty minutes.
Simmer cream/and half and half, rose petals, sugar and the coarsely crushed nuts for about 12 minutes. Chill this mix.
When ready to make the ice cream, combine with the Rooh Afza, rose water and with the chilled cream in the ice cream maker and follow instructions of the ice cream maker. You might want to adjust the sweet/sugar at this time. Chilling the ice cream will make it taste a little less sweeter than in unfrozen form. So do adjust accordingly. Add the lemon juice and churn for 5 more minutes. Freeze for at least 6-8 hours.
If you do not have an ice cream maker, simmer the cream with rose petals and sugar as mentioned above. Chill the mix and then fold in the other ingredients and stir gently until the syrup evenly mixes with the cream. Stir in the lemon juice and freeze. When partially frozen, take it out and whisk it again to break up the ice crystals. Freeze until ready to eat.
Garnish with nuts and more rose petals before serving.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes + Freezing Time
Difficulty Level: Very Easy
Yields: 2 quart approx.
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