Flowers are beautiful, aren’t they??? So colourful and a dessert to eyes. Across the world, flowers signify many things, in some cultures they represent abundance, while in others purity, beauty, divinity, romance, wealth, fertility, enlightenment and even knowledge. Since, flowers are appealing to eyes, they give beauty to any food they get incorporated into. It is often said that we eat with our eyes so, why not decorate food with edible flowers? They will not only make food more eye appealing but they will add nutritional value as well. Here is a list of edible flowers you can easily find in India.
The rose is commonly sighted in the form of gulkhand or a thick sweet jam-like paste used in paan, kewra water which acts as a natural coolant, candied dried rose petals as garnish on mithai for fragrance and even ittar or native perfumes. The petals can be used in tea blends as well. Rose petals help the body maintain healthy cholesterol levels. The rosewater reduces inflammation, soreness and is a natural coolant. It’s a mild sedative, enhances the body’s natural immunity and promotes a healthy heart. You will find rose petals as garnishing on many Indian sweets prepared from milk. They are also used for adding pleasing aroma in many dishes.
Lavender is a purple flower and is well known for its amazing smell. Lavender has a pungent floral flavor and aroma, with subtle notes of earthiness, and mint. The flavors of lavender pair well with herbs like oregano, rosemary, thyme and sage. Lavender flowers also make a beautiful garnish for salads, desserts, and more. They are often used to decorate ice creams and cakes. Lavender flowers are known to aid in digestive issues thus, many people drink tea prepared from the petals. Lavender is incorporated in many non-alcoholic drinks like sodas and mojitos.
Lotus is the national flower of India and is called the most human plant due to it’s ability to regulate temperatures like any warm-blooded bodies. Lotus are a good source of protein and are grown in Asia. In India, the most widely used part of this plant is the root, in the south of the country the root is sliced and simply spiced to make for a tasty side dish, while in Kashmir it is called nadru and other North Indian regions it’s used in richer gravies like rogan jhosh and yakhni. This flower is a common sighting in Sindhi and Punjabi home pantries. Lotus has several minerals, including potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and choline. It’s also high in vitamin C and folate. It is often used in gravies and sweet dishes. This flower is used in food fresh as it loses its appealing texture and aroma as it dries.
Moringa flower is a popular ingredient in South India, where the fruit(drumstick) is frequently used in sambar. They are nutritious and worth trying. The flowers can be steeped in boiling water for a calming tea, blended into a mild chutney, or can even be fried in oil for a crispy snack. The flowers are rich in potassium and calcium and have been known as an effective cure for muscle spasms, cramps and tension. Moringa flowers are a good source of vitamin A, a nutrient that can help boost the immune system and protect overall vision health. The flowers also contains calcium to strengthen bones, vitamin C to reduce inflammation, and some potassium, iron, and amino acids. In Ayurveda, Moringa flowers are steeped into teas and used in tonics to reduce symptoms associated with colds and mild infections.
The banana blossom is a purple tear-shape flower that grows at the end of a banana fruit cluster. It is popular in Kerala, where it is known as vazhaipoo, the banana blossom’s flavour is not as strong as banana fruit it is a milder version of a banana. It is rich in iron and fibre and is useful for building immunity against bacterial infections. It is used in Malabar cuisine, where it is fried in coconut oil, along with spices. There are several ways to cook the banana flower. In Asia and Southeast Asia, it is common ingredient for salad and stews.
Jasmine is beautiful white flower with an impactful aroma which makes it appealing. Jasmine has been used for liver disease (hepatitis), liver pain due to cirrhosis, and abdominal pain due to severe diarrhea (dysentery). Jasmine tea is one of the most calming drink you will ever try. This tea is used to cause relaxation and to manage stress. In foods, jasmine is used to flavor beverages, frozen dairy desserts, candy, baked goods, gelatins, and puddings. Jasmine infused water is very common drink in Thailand.
You must be familiar with this one, it is grown in almost every continent and over 200 varieties are out there. The most common varieties have red, pink or purple colour. Hibiscus is a good source of vitamin C, a key vitamin that helps support a healthy immune system. Since ancient times, It has also been used in herbal medicine to lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It’s extracts have been used to remedy various ailments from toothaches and urinary tract infections to colds and even hangovers. The dried petals are steeped in hot or cold water to produce a tart, cranberry-like tea with a matching deep red-violet colour and sometimes sweetener is added in the tea too. Hibiscus infused water is another stunning drink you can prepare with the flowers. It can be used as garnishing on top of desserts like cakes and ice creams.
Viola is very commonly known as heartsease for its medicinal properties, Viola tricolor is used as an edible flower. It is sprinkled on salads or desserts. It makes a dainty plant, with pretty little violet- and yellow-faced miniature pansy flowers. The flavour is quite delicate, pleasing and perfumed. Violas are a source of vitamins A and C. They have nutrients with antioxidant-like properties to strengthen the immune system, boost collagen production within the skin, and defend the cells against damage inflicted by external environmental factors. The flowers also contain anthocyanins, which are basically the pigments that give the petals their coloured appearance and have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties to lower blood pressure and protect against disease. When used for desserts, sometimes flowers are crystallized with egg whites and sugar to create a glistening, crisp consistency. Beyond culinary preparations, Violas are popular garnishes for cocktails, teas, and iced beverages.
I hope after reading this blog, you will incorporate flowers in your food as well especially desserts, why not surprize your guests with a floral dessert or a floral tea? Go and run to a nearby flower shop, decorate your home and food with them.