Secrets to Cooking Halal Meats with Roses
We couldn’t resist talking about roses this month. Not as a commercialised display of romantic love but as a hypnotic, intense perfume and flavour popular in many parts of the world but underused in cooking here in the UK. There’s no denying that rose buds and petals look poetic —flush, violet and crimson on a plate — but they aren’t just decoration, or just for sweets and drinks (although we love those too!). We hope you’ll be inspired to use roses in more halal meat dishes. For us there’s another kind of romance to roses, a nostalgic, intoxicating and colourful sort of romance. And, we really can’t get enough of the taste.
Roses with Beef
A recipe we love for cooking halal meat with roses is Sumayya Usmani’s recipe for Beef Meatball Pulao from her book “Summers Under the Tamarind Tree.” The recipe uses halal minced beef to make the meatballs, which she mixes with ginger, garlic, cumin and chili. Into the rice goes star anise, for that wonderful, rich scent, along with cardamom, red onion, and more garlic, ginger and chili. The most wonderful part of this recipe is the dressing, as the dish is finished off with edible silver leaf and dried edible rose buds. The roses are decorative here, but they also give off a lovely pungent aroma, reminiscent of siting in a garden on a summer’s night. Set off with the silver, the roses transport a simple meatball into another world.
Roses with Lamb
The aromatic flavour of lamb works beautifully with roses. They are delicious with lamb or mutton chops or in a lamb curry. They’re great too in a lamb tagine with pomegranate seeds. Adding rosewater to a lamb biryani is evocative of Kashmiri food too — set it off with fresh mint.
Roses with Chicken
We love cooking halal chicken thighs or breasts with roses. Why not cook up a delicious rice or pilaf-based dish with roses, pistachios and saffron? Cook in chicken stock and use other favourite spices, like cumin seeds or harissa, all on the hob in a casserole dish. You can add other Persian-inspired additions too, like apricots, figs or sultanas. A version of this can also be cooked in a tagine. As with lamb, a few drops of rosewater can spice up a chicken biryani too.
Dried vs Fresh?
Most recipes use dried roses but you can use fresh, but please consult guides for more information on safety if you wish to cook with fresh roses. You’ll need to be sure you’re eating safe varieties that are untreated and organic, and that you are not susceptible to allergies. Remember to only eat the petals, and no other part of the flower. For us, the dried variety does just fine! (Don’t forget the value of using rosewater too, which is good value and highly perfumed.)
Roses and Health
Once you know you’ve chosen your roses well, you can rest assured that they’ll do you the world of good, apparently held to speed up the metabolism, to aid with digestion and relieve stress. They’re also a natural aphrodisiac.
Let us know in the comments section below if you have any tips on cooking halal meat with roses or other flowers.