What Is Kewra Water? How To Use In Cooking

India is home to a plethora of ingredients that would leave the rest of the world baffled Our ancient ties to Ayurveda and the rich natural resources of our country mean that interesting combinations have been derived from the plants around us. One of those that comes up quite often, but isn’t always thoroughly understood is Kewra water.

Kewra water, also known as screwpine water, is a flavourful extract that has long been a staple ingredient in South Asian cuisine. It is a clear, fragrant liquid extracted from the flowers of Pandanus tectorius, which is native to Southeast Asia and is widely cultivated in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

Where Kewra Water Comes From

The kewra tree, known scientifically as Pandanus odoratissimus, is a small, evergreen shrub that can grow up to six metres in height. It is a member of the Pandanus genus, which contains over 600 species of plants that are distributed throughout tropical regions of the world. The kewra tree is primarily grown for its fragrant flowers, which are used to produce kewra water.

A History Of Its Use

The use of kewra water can be traced back to ancient times. It is believed that the Mughal emperors of India were among the first to use kewra water in their cooking. The Mughals were known for their elaborate feasts, and they used kewra water as a flavouring agent in many of their dishes. Over time, the use of kewra water spread throughout South Asia, and it became a popular ingredient in many traditional dishes.

The Flavours Of Kewra Water

Kewra water has a unique flavour profile that is difficult to describe. It has a floral, slightly sweet aroma, with hints of vanilla and rose. The flavour is delicate and subtle, and it adds a depth of flavour to dishes that is hard to replicate with other ingredients. It is often used to enhance the flavour of meats, rice, and desserts.

How It’s Used In Cooking

One of the most popular uses of kewra water is in biryani, a fragrant rice dish that is popular throughout South Asia. Biryani is made by layering cooked rice with spiced meat or vegetables and cooking the dish over a low flame until the flavours meld together. Kewra water is added to the rice before it is cooked, giving it a distinct flavour and aroma. The result is a fragrant and flavourful dish that is beloved by many.

Kewra water is also used in a variety of other dishes. It is often added to curries, particularly those made with lamb or mutton. The delicate flavour of kewra water pairs well with the rich, savoury flavour of these meats, and it helps to balance out the heat of the spices. Kewra water is also used in desserts, particularly those made with milk or cream. It adds a subtle floral note to these dishes, which can help to cut through the richness of the dairy.

In addition to its culinary uses, kewra water is also used in a variety of other ways. It is sometimes added to perfumes and fragrances, as it has a pleasant and unique aroma. It is also used in aromatherapy, as the scent of kewra is said to have a calming effect on the mind and body.

Despite its many uses, kewra water is not widely known outside of South Asia. This is partly due to the fact that it is difficult to find in many parts of the world. However, kewra water is becoming increasingly popular in Western countries, particularly among foodies and those who enjoy experimenting with new flavours and ingredients.