Gulkand is a luxurious sun-cooked preserve of Damask rose petals. It’s said that Gulkand was originally formulated in ancient Indo-Persia (900 B.C) for its intense flavours as an ingredient and for its healing properties as a coolant. It is quite possibly the most complete and authentic rose experience as slow sun-cooking concentrates the flavours of the Damask rose in an easy to use gently caramelized preserve. “Gul” means flower in both Persian and Urdu whereas “Kand” translates into sweetness in Arabic. It is believed to possess cooling & calming properties which is why it has been traditionally associated with regal recipes to create a wide range of desserts and bakery preparations to beat the summer heat.
The lavish costs and seasonal nature of Damask roses coupled with the arduous process of sun-cooking and curing Gulkand make it one of the finest and most sought after delicacies coming out of the Indian sub-continent after the world famous Kashmiri Saffron. Regal, exotic, authentic & opulent, a ‘rose experience’ that remains unmatched. We can assure you, just one teaspoonful of Gulkand will forever change the way you look at roses!
HOW IS IT BETTER THAN ROSE JAM / CONFITURE?
It would be inaccurate to draw any comparisons between Gulkand and Rose petal jams/confitures, as the taste, texture and aroma of Gulkand is vastly superior to any Rose petal jam/confiture available in the market. To explore these differences more technically, one should focus on the most important difference between these two products which lies in their respective manufacturing processes. Gulkand is sun-cooked and cured over a long period with just Damask rose petals, candy sugar & assorted spices. Rose petal jams/confitures on the other hand are prepared by boiling Rose petals and sugar (usually with pectin) and are ready to serve in just a couple of hours. Slow sun-cooking imparts depth & richness to the already concentrated floral, fruity and caramelized flavours of Gulkand. With a combination of these intense flavours, the flavour profile of Gulkand easily surpasses the uni-dimensional and at times tart flavours of Rose petal jams/confitures.
Unlike usual Rose petal jams/confitures, Gulkand is best relished when one slowly unfolds its abundant & luscious rose petals. Every petal releasing a variety of different flavours with each bite. If one compares rose petal volumes, most Rose petal jams/confitures have less than 20% of rose petals in the final product. In stark contrast, it’s fairly easy to conclude that close to 95% of the “Gulkand experience” is about sensual exploration of these of sun-cooked Damask rose petals.
There is documented proof that ancient Indian (Ayurvedic), Greek, Persian & Arabic (Unani) physicians prescribed Gulkand to mitigate a wide variety of summer/heat related ailments. Gulkand was primarily consumed in these regions for the cooling properties it imparted to the user. Ayurvedic texts which can be traced back to 900 B.C list Gulkand as a “Rasayana” which is Sanskrit for “tonic”; a tonic which helps in alleviating summer specific health issues like sun-strokes, acidity, indigestion, lethargy, inflamed eyes, excessive perspiration.
Damask roses have always been associated with all things related to love, romance and adventure. Historical evidence suggests that Gulkand has a calming effect on one’s nervous system and is considered to be a powerful aphrodisiac as well. If that isn’t convincing enough, it also acts as a fragrant by reducing body odour when consumed regularly during summer months. The scope of benefits extends to beautification by purifying one’s blood. This improves one’s complexion by mitigating skin conditions like rashes and acne.
Gulkand prepared from Damask roses was the ingredient of choice for ancient royalty & aristocracy for all of the aforementioned benefits it imparted. It was considered to be that universal elixir which uplifted the soul, opened up avenues for love and enhanced one’s beauty. Thankfully, this arduous tradition of preparing slow sun-cooked Gulkand has lived on into our times and everybody has access to this wonderful summer elixir!
THE DAMASK ROSE
The Damask rose (botanical name: Rosa damascena) is a result of cross-breeding between Rosa moschata (native to the Himalayas) and Rosa gallica (native to central Europe). It must be noted though that it is more fragrant than either of the parent rose cultivars and has petals which are edible. In the middle of 12th century, Crusaders brought this rose back to Europe from Damascus (Syria) and it has been recorded and documented as “Rosa damascena” ever since. They usually flower only once every year in summer, but there are exceptions to this rule. Some Damask roses are known to flower in autumn as well.
The Damask rose has been revered throughout history as multi-sensory sensual stimuli – many even calling it the Queen of Roses because of its unique universally appealing fragrance and intense olfactory feedback! These prized roses have inspired great art, poetry and literature, with artists and writers unanimously hailing these roses as lush, intoxicating, addicting & opulent. Scientifically, much of this sensory experience can be broken down to an almost miraculous combination of wonderful fragrant organic oils (Damascenones) that this rose carries in just the right proportions. 99% of all of the authentic premium rose based products that are available to us in the market, be it light rose essences, rose water, perfumes, essential oils, waxes (otto/attar) etc. are all produced by distilling and concentrating essential oils present in the Damask rose.
These days Damask roses are cultivated commercially primarily in Iran, India, Bulgaria, France and Turkey.
CANDY SUGAR (MISRI)
Damask rose petals are sun-cooked and cured using powdered variants of large non-centrifuged crystalline pieces of sugar known as “candy sugar” or “Misri” in Hindi/Urdu. Candy sugar originated in the Indo-Persian region and documented proof of production was first found in the writings of Arabic writers in the 9th century. Supersaturated sugar solutions are cooled down over several days to form these large sugar crystals. Slow crystallization imparts a very mild and soothing sweetness to these sugar crystals. Refined sugar on the other hand is quite unpalatable in large quantities and doesn’t posses similar depth of flavour on being caramelized. In many an ancient civilisation, candy sugar was known for its wide gamut of healing properties. Traditionally in India, candy sugar has been used as a holy offering both to the Gods & Goddesses as well as their followers and also administered to patients by Ayurvedic practitioners as a harmonizing tonic.
Apart from its abundant use in the Indian sub-continent, candy sugar and its variants are used all around the world for their inimitable texture and sweetness. Candy sugar is an integral part of the “tea culture” in East Frisia, Germany. A candy sugar based luxury bread known as ‘Suikerbrood’ is also part of the Frisian culinary culture and is popular in Netherlands and Belgium. In China, sugar candy is used to sweeten Chrysanthemum tea, Cantonese dessert soups (Tong Sui) and sorghum liquor (Baijiu).
WHAT INGREDIENTS GO INTO ITS PREPARATION AND IN WHAT PROPORTIONS?
Freshly harvested Damask rose petals and mildly sweet candy sugar are the only ingredients which are used in the preparation of Gulkand. At the time of manufacturing the proportion of candy sugar to rose petals is 2:1. During the long sun-cooking and curing process, candy sugar gets caramelized and loses most of its moisture. **Laboratory tests indicate a moisture level of only about 19.62% at the end of the manufacturing process.
The final post-production proportion by weight of sugar to rose petals is around 2:1 (**BRIX value of 33%). Depending on market requirements, assorted spices (cardamom, cinnamon etc.) or compounds (coral calcium, pearl paste, cured gold etc.) are added to the mix.
**Note: It would be prudent to note that these figures can change over batches and over time.
29 DAY LONG PROCESS
100% NATURAL / NO CHEMICALS / NO ADDITIVES
Our products are all natural. We do not use any artificial aromatic agents and flavourants to produce our Gulkand. We do not use any preservatives to extend the shelf-life of our products.
Fresh rose petals are washed and left to dry on a clean cloth overnight. They are completely dried till there is no water content remaining on the petals. Weight of candy sugar and petals should be in the ratio of 2:1.
These clean rose petals and sugar are then kept in alternating layers of 1.5 cm thickness each. These layers are arranged in large sterilized glass jam jars with a wide mouth. A layer of candy sugar is followed by a layer of rose petals and this process is repeated till the glass jar is completely filled.
The jar is closed with the lid and kept in sun light. This process of “sun-cooking” is carried out on hot sunny days for at least two weeks which draws out the moisture from the petals turning this mixture into a precursor of a preserve. Temperature inside the jar exceeds 120 degrees Celcius thereby caramelizing and sterilizing the preserve over this two week period.
After two weeks, these jars are brought indoors for another two weeks and shaken occasionally till the preserve achieves a dark brown colour and a jam like consistency. Depending on the consistency and taste, Gulkand may be kept in such a state for even longer periods of time. Once ready it is then re-packed into smaller jars, ready for consumption.
Of all edible rose based preparations available in the market, it would be safe to say that Gulkand possesses the most intense taste of rose petals. It would be important to point out that not only is the taste extremely vivid, it’s also the most authentic taste of rose that one can experience among all edible rose based preparations. A combination of Damask roses, long and slow sun-cooking process and gentle caramelization results in the most unique, deep & intense taste of rose.
To truly relish the opulence of Gulkand is to let large and small petals of Damask rose create multiple explosions of flavour in your mouth with each and every bite! The more you chew, the closer you get to the true flavour of the Damask rose. It’s an acquired and yet addicting experience. Its primary texture resembles a luxurious medley of lush rose petals and slow caramelized candy sugar. As a homogeneous mass, it appears sticky, opaque and brown in colour, but when individual petals are isolated, they are almost transparent and golden in colour.
The heavenly aroma of Gulkand closely resembles deeper notes for which Damask rose oils are world famous for. Since Gulkand is slowly sun-cooked and cured, the fragrance range is dominated by floral and fruity notes of Damascenones along with hints of deep notes of Geraniol. Fresh notes of Nerol and floral notes Linalool dominate the acute spectrum of Gulkand’s aroma. The overall olfactory experience of Gulkand can be described as titillatingly intense but not too overpowering.
NOTES FOR CHEFS & CONFECTIONERS
Blooming: After adding Gulkand to a confectionery medium (liquids and semi-solids), it’s highly recommended to allow the various petals of Rose to stay in the medium for over 5 minutes. This process helps each petal to unfold and enhance the taste, texture and aroma of the final dish. If you are preparing Gulkand based ice-cream or lassi, it’s recommended that you shake/whip up the mixture well to aid the process of blooming.
Post-production laboratory testing suggests that our Gulkand has a pH level of 6.10 which makes it compatible with most confectionery bases. It has a moisture content of around 19.62% which is within the range of being succulent without being either too runny or too dry. The final BRIX value stands at around 33%. An important point to note while formulating new dishes based on Gulkand, is that rose petals tend to increase in volume once they are added to a liquid or semi-solid medium.
A TOUCH OF “ROYALTY”
Enjoying the true aroma, flavour & texture of Damask roses is now easier than ever! Incorporate a teaspoonful of Gulkand into your teas, ice-creams, smoothies/lassis, cocktails etc to instantly add that touch of “royalty” to your culinary repertoire. Gulkand can also be used to enhance fillings, ganaches, creams, coulis etc. for various French, Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Indian desserts. Moreover, one can also use Gulkand or even individual rose petals of Gulkand to embellish plates or as dressings just before serving.
TEA & COFFEE
We highly recommend an hors d’oeuvre platter of tiny portions of Gulkand served on unsalted bread, toast, muffins, tea-cakes and scones followed by a round of Oolong, Earl Grey or White tea. Gulkand is the perfect culinary companion for tea/coffee lovers who are looking to infuse that exotic uplifting flavour to their teas & coffees. One can enjoy it separately on a scone as mentioned or simply replace sugar with a teaspoon or two of Gulkand.
MILKSHAKES / LASSI
Shaking up a tall glass of plain Greek yogurt with a couple of tea-spoons of Gulkand (and optionally some ice-cubes) is one of the easiest ways to beat the heat in summer months! To incorporate a more “Lassi” like flavour to your shake, feel free to add accents of cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg etc. as per your liking. Gulkand also goes well with other fruits like strawberries, bananas, peaches, mangoes etc. when blended and served as a smoothie.
PASTRIES & SWEETS
There is no better way to experience the wonderful flavours of Damask roses than having Gulkand incorporated into your favourite desserts – be it Asian, Middle-Eastern or European sweets & pastries. It’s best relished as ganaches & fillings for French macarons and pâte à choux delicacies like cream puffs and eclairs. One can incorporate it into homemade biscuits, cakes and pastries to add that regal touch. It can also be used in savoury dishes as it adds just a small accent of rose and enhances the overall flavour of the dish.
Adding Gulkand to your ice-cream and semifreddo dishes is an addictive and intoxicating experience, especially when enjoyed on hot summer days! There are two ways of incorporating this luscious ingredient into ice-cream – one can either mix Gulkand in the milk-cream before it is set to refrigerate or simply use a teaspoon of Gulkand as a topping on top of a plain ice-cream base. Garnish with pistachios or almond flakes and impress your friends with the taste of royalty!
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