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Friday, March 31, 2017

Gulkand (Rose Preserve)

Gulkand is a highly fragrant and delicious rose preserve. Gulkand is said to have a cooling property and is usually eaten in summers. We usually eat about a spoonful of it with milk. I have also used it to make different sweets. So far, I had always bought gulkand. This year I decided to try my hand at making it from the roses in the garden.

We have been having a lovely spring and this year the rose plants are producing beautiful, and extremely fragrant roses. The roses are so fragrant, that I was very tempted to make gulkand using them. I remembered that my mom had made gulkand from the roses in her garden last year. So, I called her and she explained the process to me. Now I just had three large roses and I wanted to see how the gulkand would turn out without having to wait for the time period that the traditional method entails. So, I decided to try to experiment with instant methods and they worked beautifully. I would recommend the traditional method if you have the patience, as it produces the most fragrant gulkand, but the instant methods are also great quick recipes which produce equally flavorful gulkand. See the tips below for pros and cons of both methods.

I used three large flowers to make the gulkand. It was a small quantity but very satisfying as it was made using flowers from the garden. I began with an ounce (28 gm) of flower petals which resulted in about 1/3 cup of gulkand.

Rose petals (any color)
Water (if using instant method)

Make sure that the roses you are using are edible and are not sprayed with any toxic pesticides. Any color rose petals can be used. The more fragrant the rose, the better aroma the gulkand will have. Remove the petals from the roses, gently and then wash these very gently. To do this, fill a bowl with water, and submerge the petals in it. Gently swirl them around and remove the water. By doing this, you ensure that the petals don’t get bruised. Then, use a salad spinner and dry the rose petals out. And spread these on a cotton cloth and let them dry for a couple of hours till absolutely dry. This is an important step if you are going to use the traditional method of making gulkand. Next, weigh the petals and then weigh an equal amount of sugar. If you don’t have a weighing scale, take enough sugar to cover all the petals with sugar. You can always take a little more sugar but at the minimum it should be at least equal in weight or enough to cover the petals. Now continue with one of the methods below. See tips below on the pros and cons of each method.

Traditional method
Cut the petals and crush them lightly and place them in a glass container. Cover the petals with the sugar. Close the lid and place in the sunlight. In the evening, bring the container inside. The next morning, shake the container to mix the petals and semi melted sugar.  If you have more rose petals to add, follow the same procedures. Add a layer of the petals and cover them with sugar. Continue this till you have filled the bottle with the desired volume of petals. Keep this in the sunlight during the day and make sure to shake the bottle and stir the petal and sugar mixture. Continue this for a couple of weeks till the sugar has melted and the petals are nicely coated and have a brown hue. You can taste it at this stage and determine if the petals are the right consistency. If the temperature is high during the day, the gulkand will be formed n a week to 10 days after you have stopped adding the petals and sugar. It will take longer with milder weather.

Instant method #1
Cut the petals and crush them lightly. In a saucepan, add the sugar. Add a few spoons of water, just enough to ensure that the sugar is wet and there is enough water to stir it. Heat this and make a syrup. Add the petals and boil them for a few mins till wilted and cooked. Take off the heat and let cool.

Instant method #2
Cut the petals and crush them lightly. In a pressure cooker safe bowl add the petals, sugar and a few spoons of water. Stir it and cover the bowl with a lid or aluminum foil so that it is tightly covered and the steam created during the pressure cooking will not enter the bowl. Add water to the pressure cooker as per the directions for your cooker. Then place the bowl in the pressure cooker and cook the petal and sugar mixture for about 5/6 whistles or 4 minutes in an electric pressure cooker. Once the pressure drops, remove the bowl and remove the lid/foil gently ensuring that any water collected on it doesn’t fall into the bowl. Stir the mixture and let it cool.

The traditional method preserves the fragrance better and the gulkand will have a stronger aroma. However, it does take longer for the gulkand to get cooked in the sunlight. This is however a better method with long term storage. Since the roses are preserved in sugar and additional moisture is not added, it is a better method to make it in bulk as it will not get spoiled easily. As long as you do not introduce any moisture, it will last even an entire year.
The instant method is much faster and you will be able to eat the gulkand immediately instead of having to wait for weeks. It is better when you are planning to use just a few roses. The taste is flavorful, however the fragrance is not as strong as it evaporates a little due to the heating at high temperatures. A small quantity will last without refrigeration for a couple of weeks, but keep it in the fridge for longer storage time.



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