No 150! Medieval Egyptian Valentine’s Day treat: sugar-dried rose petal conserve (ورد مربّى, ward murabbā)

The word murabbā (or, more correctly, murabban) refers to something made with rubb (ربّ), inspissated or concentrated juice, with murabbayāt (مربّيات) denoting various kinds of preserves, conserves, etc. There are often references to the use of rose murabbā in medieval Arab cookery books, usually as a sweetener in dishes, but none of them gives any recipes. As a result, the recreation required a search elsewhere, and leads us to the 11th-century pharmacologist Ibn Jazla, from whom the method for making a violet murabbā was adapted by replacing the violets with rose petals. The process requires sun-dried rubbed rose petals, sugar, and sugar syrup, followed by some more sun drying (tip: an air dryer does the trick as well). It is more than likely that the dish is Persian in origin, while the closest modern avatar is the Indian gulkand (my thanks to Priya Mina for pointing this out). The outcome is crumbly sweet rosey deliciousness, perfect for sharing on Valentine’s Day!

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