Rose to Hibiscus: How Floral Flavours Enhance Culinary Creations
Image Credit: Avocado on toast with blue pea floral dressing. Image via Instagram.

You've probably encountered local edible flowers used as garnishes for dishes at restaurants, adding a burst of colour and natural beauty. But did you know that these flowers offer more than just visual appeal? Indigenous edible flowers can elevate your culinary creations with their vibrant flavours and enticing aromas. Why not bring the essence of India's diverse flora into your kitchen by infusing spirits, syrups, and vinegar with fresh floral wonders?

To begin, gather pesticide-free flowers from your garden or purchase organic blooms from your local flower seller. Some of the most suitable options that are available in plenty include marigold, jasmine, hibiscus, rose, and pansy. You can also go for tried-and-tested flowers like blue pea and dandelion. To get started, do not forget to gently rinse the flowers and pat them dry before infusing them into your chosen medium.


If one were to talk about a timeless floral infusion it would definitely be the rose syrup. Fill a jar with fragrant rose petals, cover them with sugar, and let them sit for 2-3 weeks until the sugar becomes infused with the essence of roses. Strain out the petals and use the rose-infused sugar in cocktails, lemonade, or desserts. Similarly, you can create rose vinegar or rose liqueur by combining rose petals with vinegar or a neutral alcohol like vodka in a tightly sealed container.


Jasmine is another beloved edible flower available readily that yields delightful infusions. From mogra, chameli, parijat or rajnigandha, there are different varieties of Jasmine that you can pick. To make jasmine syrup, combine 250 ml each of sugar and water with 1/4 cup of fresh jasmine flowers in a saucepan. Heat until the sugar dissolves, then remove from heat and let it steep overnight. Strain and bottle the jasmine syrup. It can be used to sweeten cocktails, lassi, or desserts. You can also make jasmine-infused vinegar, lemonade, or custard using the same method.


For an infusion with marigold, combine marigold petals with sugar and water or a neutral alcohol. Marigold possesses a unique floral flavour with a hint of earthiness. Marigold syrup or cordial can be used to create traditional Indian drinks like sherbets or thandai, while marigold vinegar makes a delightful dressing for salads.


Hibiscus flowers offer a tangy and citrusy infusion. Combine hibiscus petals with sugar and water to create a vibrant hibiscus syrup. It can be used to add a zing to cocktails, mocktails, or even as a drizzle over fruit salads. Hibiscus vinegar can be used in salad dressings or marinades, adding a touch of acidity and floral aroma.

Using local edible flowers is a simple way to bring the natural beauty and flavour of desi natural goodness to your culinary creations. Your floral infusions can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes, enhancing everything from traditional beverages to contemporary desserts with an unexpected touch of floral freshness.

When creating your infusions, be sure to use unsprayed flowers and sterilised jars. Pack the jars with blossoms and then cover them with your chosen liquid. For syrups and vinegar, maintain a ratio of equal parts sugar to water and vinegar to water respectively. When infusing spirits, ensure that the blossoms are fully immersed in vodka, brandy, or any neutral alcohol. Seal the jars and infuse them in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight for 2 to 4 weeks, allowing the flavours to develop according to your preference.

Strain out the blossoms using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth and bottle your infusions. Floral infusions can last for several months when refrigerated. Remember to label and date your bottles for easy reference.

Here are some recipe ideas to get you started:

Marigold sharbat -- Combine 1 cup marigold syrup, 2 cups chilled water, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve over ice and garnish with marigold petals.

Jasmine lassi -- Blend 1 cup yoghurt, 1/4 cup jasmine syrup, a pinch of cardamom powder, and a handful of ice cubes until smooth. Pour into glasses and garnish with jasmine flowers.

Rose-infused kulfi -- Prepare kulfi using your favourite recipe and fold in a tablespoon of rose-infused sugar before freezing. Serve the rose-flavoured kulfi in traditional moulds or cups.

Hibiscus and citrus salad dressing -- Whisk together 3 tablespoons of hibiscus vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, a teaspoon of honey, salt, and pepper. Drizzle over mixed greens and enjoy.

Jasmine-infused tea -- Steep jasmine flowers in hot water for a few minutes. Strain and sweeten with jasmine syrup to taste. Sip and savour the delicate floral notes.

Unleash your creativity and explore the boundless opportunities for using indigenous floral infusions in your Indian cooking. So why not pluck some blossoms and embark on a culinary journey inspired by the rich floral heritage of India? Your taste buds will thank you for the delightful experience.