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Arabian Crumble & Rose Water

“Khabees reminds me of a Greek halva. Later, I came to learn of its Ottoman roots,” says the author of this recipe. Khabees is flour-based, as are so many desserts in the Gulf, but in contrast to the Mediterranean version, this recipe calls for toasting the flour, which gives the dish a special depth and smokiness.

Arabian Crumble
Serves 4

Pinch of saffron strands
3 tablespoons rosewater
4 ounces sugar
3⁄4 cup water
1⁄2 teaspoon cardamom
9 ounces all-purpose flour,
3⁄4 cup melted unsalted butter
or vegetable oil

Soak the saffron in the rosewater for about 1 hour.

Bring the sugar and plain water to a boil in a medium pan. When the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cardamom powder and saffron/rosewater.

Toast the flour in a large saucepan over medium heat (it toasts more evenly in a large pan). Stir regularly until the flour is golden brown and smells woody. This can take up to 15 minutes. Stir the melted butter into the warm flour. The flour will first form clumps. Gradually add the sugared water (it will splatter so be careful), stirring continuously until the water is absorbed into a thick paste. Continue to stir over the heat for another minute or until it can be turned cleanly out of the pan.

Rose Water

Rose Water,
a Key to Healthy and Green Living

What is it?
Pure rose water is liquid distilled from roses. It smells heavenly and tastes delicious.

Cooking delights:
It is used as a flavoring in fancy Greek, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern pastries, puddings and cakes. (It is also used in cosmetics for its lovely scent and as a gentle astringent toner for dry skin.)

Keep your antenna up when buying rose water. The 100 percent pure form is the way to go. Many pharmacies and some natural food stores sell synthetic rose oil and water with preservatives added.

Where to get the real thing:
Besides health food stores and herb stores, you can often find rose water in Middle Eastern, Greek or Indian delicatessens or markets.

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