Gulkand is a luxurious Indo-Persian Ayurvedic caramelized rose petal preserve. The literal meaning of gulkand is – gul= rose/flower and kand=sweet.
Gulkand is made with rose petals collected at their peak of freshness, and sun cooked with sugar slowly over the course of time. Traditionally, the Damascus Rose is used for Gulkand due to its intense fragrance favoured by perfumers, and sweetened with Misri, a type of rock sugar/candy. However, any old heirloom aromatic rose and sugar will suffice. I use a double petal Rosa Rugosa from my garden, and only organic sugars.
The seasonal and time constrained nature of roses, coupled with the slow process of sun-cooking and curing method of Gulkand make it one of the most sought after delicacies. Typically made with only two ingredients, it is sublime, romantic, rich and authentic in its ‘rose experience.’
Although technically a jam, it would be inaccurate to compare it to a standard rose petal jam or confiture, however wonderfully delicious rose petal jams are. The method of making rose petal jam requires rapid boiling of a smaller percentage of rose petals to water and sugar typical in jam making. The outcome is a flavour that is subtle and flirtatious. The sun-kissed petals of Gulkand are massaged with sugar, and slowed cured in less intense heat over a long period of time, leisurely releasing a syrupy aroma, texture and taste that grabs at your heart with all its might. With a depth of concentrated fruity floral and caramelized richness, it surpasses the uni-dimensional flavour of rose petal jams/confitures, although rose petal jams/confitures still have their rightful place at the table.
Gulkand’s aromatics make a delicate accompaniment to your meals, or as an ingredient in sweets, raita, lassi, salad dressings, yogurt or milkshakes.
In Ayurvedic medicine, Gulkand is known for its cooling and calming properties. In addition to this, it has a plethora of other wonderful benefits for your health and happiness.
The Health Benefits of Gulkand:
1. It is a body coolant and eases pitta dosha, according to Ayurvedic medicine.
Gulkand soothes excess pitta in the body, which causes heat, and thus keeps the body cool. It also relieves heat-related symptoms such as lethargy, rashes, aches and pain.
During the summer heat wave, consuming a teaspoon or two of gulkand can help you prevent various heat conditions such as migraines, sunstroke and helps control nose bleeding.
Note: Ayurvedic medicine is an Indian practice, and one of the oldest system of medicine in the world. It combines the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge). A dosa is one of 3 substances that are present in a person's body. The theory is that good health exists when there is a balance between the 3 fundamental bodily bio-elements, or dosa, named Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
2. It’s good for the skin
Gulkand is a great blood purifier, and helps to remove toxins from the body. This can give you clear and glowing complexion and healthy skin, and also helps to prevent skin diseases like boils, blisters, acne, eczema, etc.
3. It is an excellent digestive tonic
Gulkand helps to improve appetite, and corrects digestive problems. Consuming 1 - 2 teaspoons of gulkand will help to reduce acidity and stomach heat. It also helps in treating ulcers and prevents swelling in the intestine. It is good for all those individuals who have water retention problems, as it helps in increasing your urine output.
4. It has a calming effect
As an adaptogen, it has a calming effect on the nervous system, thus helping us to reduce stress. It is also uplifting and rejuvenates when one is fatigued with its powerful antioxidant properties.
5. It is a love potion
Roses have always been related to love, romance and the heart. As an aphrodisiac, it acts as a fragrance by reducing body odour when the elixir is consumed regularly. As an aromatherapy, its intoxicating scent uplifts the spirit, and massages the heart.
Since it contains sugar, those with diabetes should consult their doctor before consuming Gulkand.
Do not use fresh roses from a florist. They would most certainly have been sprayed with chemicals and are not as aromatic as heirloom varieties. Please do not pick roses from roadsides if you are uncertain of herbicide spray usage and vehicle toxins.
Harvest roses in the early morning after the dew dries, and before the hot sun hits. In my garden, that would be usually around 8-10 am.
Misri is a unrefined rock sugar known for its health benefits. Misri is less sweet than processed cane sugar. Other rock sugars can be used, as well as coconut palm sugar, cane sugar, etc. If using rock sugars, bear in mind that they are not as sweet as other types of sugars.
Rose petals, washed and dried
Sugar (Misri, or any kind of rock candy/sugar, coconut/palm sugar, cane sugar)
Optional: Cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, etc to taste.
Clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid
Gaia nurtures us with Arogya (holistic health), peace, and happiness. Arogya is a Sanskrit word which means Health of the Body, Mind, and Spirit.
Delicate, and elegant, the rose is far more than an eye pleaser. The healing properties of roses are known throughout cultures; practised in Native, European, Persian, Ayurvedic, and Chinese Traditional medicine. It is consumed as food, drink, medicine and made into perfumes. It offers us physical and well as emotional healing. One whiff of rose scent would help to uplift the spirit, making a believer out of any skeptic.
It is talked about in mythology, poetry, literature, religion, folklore, art, and songs. The Indian gods, Brahma (the creator of the world) and Vishnu (the protector of the world), argued over whether the lotus was more beautiful than the rose. God Vishnu was enamoured by roses, while God Brahma supported the lotus. But Brahma had never seen a rose before and when he did he immediately recanted. As a reward Brahma created a bride for Vishnu and called her Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity — she was created from 108 large and 1008 small rose petals. In Greek mythology, when Eros wed Psyche, the daughters of Jupiter spread roses across the land – this is the mythology when love is wedded to the soul of mankind. In the case of Roman mythology, it was Cupid (Eros in Greco), son of Venus, while stopping to smell the rose, was stung by a bee. In anger, he drew his arrow and shot it right into the flower, resulting in the rose forever sprouting thorns. And last, but not least, Like Water for Chocolate, the lovesick Tita puts all her sorrow into the rose petal sauce, intended for her lover, but mistakenly eaten by her sister who became hot with desire. Can you say aphrodisiac?
According to Ayurvedic texts, it is not a coincidence that the rose is associated with romance, because it balances Sadhaka Pitta, the sub-dosha of pittat that governs the emotions and their effects on the heart. Sadhaka Pitta can go out of balance more easily in the summer months when the hot, humid weather increases Pitta dosha, the mind-body operator that governs heat, digestion, and metabolism in the body, while enhancing coordinatinon between the Sadhaka Pitta and Prana Vata, the subdosha of Vata, which governs the brain, chest, respiration, sensory perception and the mind.
Here is a simple invigorating and delicious beverage to jumpstart your day in a positive light, thanks to the exquisite scent and health benefits of roses.
1 ½ cups/350 ml yogurt or milk kefir
1 Tbsp/15ml rose syrup
7-8 or 10-12 dried rose petals (optional)
1-2 tsp/5-10ml rose water (optional)
½ tsp/2ml cardamom powder (optional)
a pinch of Himalayan salt (optional)
1-2 tsp/5-10ml chia seeds (optional)
Fruit such as raspberry, or pomegranate (optional)
Garnish: 1 tablespoon chopped dried nuts such as pistachios.
Combine and blend all ingredients, except nuts. Add milk if you wish. Garnish with nuts.
Rachel conducts gardening, culinary and fermenting workshops/retreats at her home on 100 acres in Northern Ontario, Canada, where she lives in creative harmony with nature. Rachel’s mission is to ensure the wisdom of our ancestors is preserved for future generations.
Images ©2002-2019 Rachel Thoo