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Rose water, a Pantry Special (Recipe: rose petal risotto)

Pantry Specials are great ingredients that find their way into my pantry from time to time, but not all the time.


Exotic and expensive often go hand-in-hand, but not in the case of rose water, a distillation of rose petals used in Middle Eastern, Indian, North African and Asian cooking to flavor candies and baked goods. From marzipan to madeleines, ice cream to iced tea, rose water adds a distinctive, subtle flavor to many desserts. It also finds its way into savory dishes, especially in the Persian cuisine; a few drops added near the end of the cooking imparts a delicate aroma without screaming "flower shop". If stored in a cool, dark part of your pantry, rose water can be kept for two years.

Is this Pantry Special new to you?

More information:
How to make your own rose water

Where to buy online:
MidEast Grocery.com, Dayna's Market ($2.99/10 oz. bottle)

How to use rose water:
Rose water plum compote
Rose petal flan
Rose water cupcakes
Cardamom panna cotta
Fresh fig and rose smoothie
Chilled tomato soup with rose water
Rosy peach cake
Greek rose ice cream
Turkish delight

Rose petal risotto

This decadent risotto from Lake Garda was served in the 1930s to the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio at his romantic dinners with the actress Eleonora Duse, according to author Diane Seed, from whose book, The Top 100 Italian Rice Dishes, this recipe is adapted. Be sure to use rose petals that have not been pesticized, fertilized, or fumigated. Serves 6.  


1 pink rosebud, just opening out
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups carnaroli or arborio rice
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1 cup dry rosé or white wine
6-1/2 cups chicken stock (I use low-sodium store-bought)
Salt and black pepper
Few drops of pink food coloring (optional, but fun)
1-1/2 tsp rose water
4-1/2 oz Emmental cheese shavings


Wash the roses and take off the petals; set aside. Heat 3 Tbsp of butter in a large straight-sided pan, and stir in the rice and a pinch of grated nutmeg. Cook on low heat, stirring, for 5 minutes. Pour in the wine and continue cooking until it has almost evaporated. Start stirring in the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, waiting for the liquid to be absorbed before adding more, until the rice is al dente (approximately 15 minutes). Remove from heat, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and stir in remaining Tbsp of butter, a few drops of pink food coloring (optional), the rose water, the smallest rose petals, and half of the cheese. Serve covered with remaining cheese and rose petals arranged on top.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Risotto alla Milanese
Mushroom risotto
Green herb risotto

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I'm not sure if it's the same thing, but dried rose buds are not uncommon here ... can also boil with some water briefly, put inside a spray bottle to be used as a facial toner/freshener hee

Nope not new to me. I don't always have it around but I do from time to time.

Mmm. Rose water! I had it for the first time a fews ago - mixed with saffron, yogurt, cumin and coriander for a marinade for lamb (since then I've used it with chicken). So fragrant and lovely. I'll have to try it with risotto -- I can imagine it will also be grand.

I always have rosewater but not enough recipes ... thanks. Just bought some plums from farmers market so will make the compote.

I've always wanted to cook with rosewater, but for some reason I haven't gotten around to it. I've seen it at Sahadi's here in Brooklyn. I even have a panna cotta recipe with rosewater ready to go, but I might have to try this risotto first!

I have bought a bottle of rose water but haven't used it yet, Lydia.
That risotto sounds amazing and so delicate!

I am constantly amazed at the list of ingredients in your pantry and the marvelous dishes you make with them. My tastes have expanded since reading your blog. Now, I might try rosewater.

I love rose water but just don't use it often enough, so I'm excited to see some new recipes for it and love the idea of using it in risotto. Thanks for linking to my recipe, though I caution anyone thinking of using it that it's not the best cake I've ever made--better to take the idea of combining peaches and rose water and use another cake recipe!

I love Rose water which is used in lots of southern Italian and especially Sicilian cooking. It's delish in pound cake or added to a glaze simply made with confectioners sugar, water and rosewater. I love to drizzle it over muffins...YUM

I love having rosewater handy. It can be that perfect last touch to a dessert that just completes the flavor...it really gives the aromatics some style. I like the sound of the risotto--that's a new application of rose for me!

I have some rosewater in my pantry. ;-))))


I do have rose water. My small town has recently been blessed with a Persian market. I have not cooked with fresh rose petals though.
I have a word of warning for any of your readers who have not used rose water yet - do not buy the artificial stuff. There is no comparison. I made this mistake a while back and made undrinkable lassis.
The real rosewater is delicate and beautiful. Thank you for all the great resources on how to use it!

many recipes for "Madeleine cookies" call for rosewater. I have made them and they are delicious. Homemade are way better than the packaged ones at Starbucks! -worth the effort.

My favorite drink is a rosewater martini - shake some Hendricks and a couple of tsps of rosewater with some ice, and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a few petals... yum!

I have never used rosewater, but I think I need to try it. Thanks for the ideas!

Hmmm...not new to rose water, but completely new to rose water risotto. As I tend to fix risotto about once every 2 weeks, I'll have to stir it up a bit with this new recipe!

Request -- could you also suggest some recipes that call for orange blossom water?

I used rosewater recently to make a peach tart. Though it certainly is not a regularly used ingredient in my cooking. Had a bit of trouble finding it, until I went to my local farmers' market.

Rose petal risotto, now just tell, who couldn't fall in love after being served that? Can you imagine, romantic poetry for dessert. Maybe I'd better learn some poetry other than, Roses are red...

The Shakers were known for using rose water in their baking, such as Mother Anne's Birthday Cake. I think it's interesting that we consider rose water exotic now -- how/when did this change?

Noobcook, just make sure if you use those dried rose petals for cooking, that they haven't been treated in any way. Otherwise, stick to perfume!

Peabody, not surprised, with all of the wonderful baking you do.

Julia, that lamb marinade sounds delicious.

Marcia, doesn't that plum and rose water compote sound great? I'm going to try it, too.

Christina, the delicate flavor of rose water will be so good in a delicate panna cotta. Enjoy!

Patricia, I don't think rose petal risotto is an everyday dish, not like mushroom risotto, but it is unusual.

Pauline, thank you for your comment -- it makes my heart sing.

Susan, thanks for the heads-up. Peaches and rose water does sound like a good combination.

Cindy, thanks for the tip about the glaze -- simple and unusual. I'll definitely try it.

Mike, I'm expecting rose water ice cream from you...

Paz, hooray! What do you make with it?

Natashya, thank you for the caution. I don't think I've ever had the imitation stuff, but I surely don't want to!

Carol, I'm so out of it that I didn't even know Starbucks makes madeleines. Where have I been???

Michelle, I like the way you think! Martinis, eh?

Maria, it's not something you'll use everyday, but rose water is definitely worth shelf space in your pantry.

Sandie, this is a recipe for a night when the kids are with their grandparents, and you and hubs are home alone....

Mae, I surely can, in another post!

S for KC, how did you tart turn out? Peaches should be a great foil for rose water.

Neil, I don't know... that old poem works pretty well!

Susan, thanks so much. I did not know this about the Shakers, who surely would have made their own rose water.

Wow, rose water! I don't think I've ever seen it used except in baklava, so this sounds really interesting.

Also, consider this my entry for that cool spice rack!

I absolutely love rosewater. I discovered it at an Indian market close to my apartment and since then it's found it's way into cocktails, cookies, cakes.... gorgeous.

I've never made anything using rose water. I have an ice cream recipe that I've wanted to try, but just have never gotten the rose water to do it!

Sounds like such an interesting risotto! I once used rose water to help make tamarind juice (out of rose water and tamarind paste) with a friend. Another delicious combination!

Ah, rose water. I bought it together with its sister, orange blossom water, and mainly I've used it to make rice pudding. Using rice flour instead of whole rice,with just a touch of rose water/orange blossom water at the end makes for such a smooth, delicious dessert. Recently I also made a Persian chicken that involved not only rose water, but saffron. Oh, what a heavenly combination. Of course, these are things I keep in my pantry at all times! You never know what you'll find on the internet.

I bought a bottle of rose water to make a special rose water cake from a book called "The Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas." I have had it for years! It's probably time to look into a fresh bottle. By the way, the cake was quite good.

Janet, I've never tried to make baklava -- too intimidating!

EB, you're so lucky to live near a good Indian market. I usually wait until I'm in Cambridge, or NYC, to do my shopping for Indian ingredients.

Kristen, rose water ice cream sounds delicious and refreshing.

Hillary, you go, girl! Tamarind and rose water? Great idea.

Amy, rose water and orange blossom water always seem to be side-by-side on the shelf in my local Middle Eastern market. The Persian chicken you describe sounds fantastic; I'm going to look through my cookbooks now to see if I can find a recipe.

TW, I used to love watching (and reading) The Frugal Gourmet. He was a zillion years ahead of his time on his TV show.

Lydia, you can buy rose water online at www.bulgarianrosewater.com.

I have a newly-acquired bottle of rosewater that I bought at the Shaker Village in Western MA. several weeks ago. Have not used it yet. I am going to find a recipe for Mother Anne's cake. Thanks for the inspiration.

My friend, a massage therapist, used to use rose water on my face in place of oil! It's so versatile!

Rosewater is something new to me, I've never even seen a bottle before now! I'm intrigued and must have me a bottle! The search is on...

Daniel, thanks for the info.

Sue, were there any Shaker recipes that came with it? That would be very interesting.

Steph, was it rose water, or rose essence, which is thicker and not something you'd use for cooking?

Reeni, good luck! Please let me know if you cannot find it, and I'll be happy to send a bottle to you.

I bought a bottle of rosewater to make these figs with perfumed marzipan:

I'm very glad for some more suggestions to use up the rest of it!

I've only just started delving into these flowery essences. The hubby does not like it but I'm sure I can sneak it in a recipe or two :)!

Absolutely new to me! I;ve heard of it but never seen it for sale or had any in my pantry... That risotto sounds lovely, though.

Eleanor, thanks for sharing your recipe.

Veron, if you use just a little bit at a time, maybe it will make him feel romantic without even knowing why!

Katie, both rose water and orange blossom water find their way into many Mediterranean dishes, so I'm guessing that more in the south of France you will find it in the markets.

rose water is a staple in many north indian kitchens, used to flavour rice-based dishes, desserts and sweet drinks. i use it in jams and compotes.

rose water is also used in face packs for a cooling effect on the skin.

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