Orange blossom water, also known as orange flower water, is a floral, aromatic scented water popular in North African cuisine. Traditionally made by distillation in a copper still, the flowers are boiled in water and the steam is condensed into the fragrant liquid you can find bottled on the shelves of Middle Eastern supermarkets.
A few drops will add an exotic floral-orange quality to any dish. Don’t let the bottle languish at the back of the cupboard, as many are wont to do. Some other simple uses for orange flower water include adding it to fresh lemonade and other bright and fruity beverages that would be complemented by the delicate floral perfume. It’s no stretch of the imagination to look forward to fruit salads and sorbets. A drop in custard is unlikely to go unfavoured, and while you’re at add a tiny splash to your rhubarb crumble. Bread pudding? Check. Rice pudding? Yes, please.
Aromatic Pearl Couscous and Watercress Salad
Often associated with sweet foods, orange blossom water also works well in some savoury preparations. I find it works particularly well in citrus-yoghurt dressings, such as in this salad, but add it sparingly. Because its flavour is strong, very little is needed to elevate a dish with its exotic floral aroma. Find this ingredient in well stocked grocery superstores and in Middle Eastern markets.
- 200 grams (1 cup) pearl couscous
- 1 clove garlic
- 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened plain vegan yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- ¼-½ teaspoon orange blossom water
- ¼ teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 cups watercress, thick stems removed, roughly chopped
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- 2-3 green onions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons dried barberries, soaked in warm water for 5-10 minutes
- 30 grams (¼ cup) pistachios, toasted
- Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the pearl couscous and cook for 8-10 minutes, until al dente. When cooked, drain water and transfer to a large bowl.
- Pound the garlic into a paste using a pestle and mortar, or chop it as finely as you can. Add lemon juice, vegan yoghurt, olive oil, maple syrup, soy sauce, orange water, and mustard. Mix to combine.
- Pour the dressing over the pearl couscous, and add the watercress, parsley, green onions, barberries, and pistachios. Stir to ensure the dressing coats all of the couscous and leaves.
- Author: Kip Dorrell
- Serves: 2-3