Like rose water, orange blossom water is distilled from petals, in this case the petals of orange blossoms. The scent and flavor of orange blossom water have powers over the soul that are amazing. I’ve opened a bottle and taken a picture for you, thinking it just might be possible for you to breathe it in through your computer screen. The scent of mazaher will grace your kitchen when you use it, and soon you might find yourself forgiving offenses, planning a picnic, or noticing that your face, even at rest, has a bit of a smile on it.
Mazaher (muh-ZUH-her) is used to scent syrups, pastries, confections, ice creams, and puddings. This is the flavor that makes Lebanese baklawa (we’ll make that delicacy once the weather cools off) the best in its class. Too much mazaher is not as perfumey on the palate as too much rose water is, but it should still be used carefully. Perhaps we can learn a thing or two from the way we use these floral waters, since it is in their subtlety that they are most alluring.
Orange blossom water is available at Middle Eastern and other grocery stores, and you can get mazaher online very cheaply. You might also like to try Mymoune orange blossom water from Lebanon. This is truly a special product, gorgeously packaged and organically made by two sisters on their parents’ farm outside of Beirut; they started their business to provide jobs and income for the women of their village. The packaging is so pretty you hesitate to open it. I recently tried Mymoune apricot preserves and nearly ate half the jar just tasting it. Order their orange blossom water and other gems here.
Sip on a delicious mazaher drink by making what the Lebanese call “white coffee.” It is in fact more like a simple tea of hot water infused with orange blossom water, made even better with a touch of sugar or honey. Chill the mixture and pour over ice cubes to make an excellent iced orange blossom water this summer.
Orange Blossom “white coffee”–hot or iced
1 ¼ cups hot water
5 t. orange blossom water (more or less, to taste)
1 t. sugar (superfine if dissolving in cold water) or honey
Add the orange blossom water and sugar to the hot water and mix thoroughly. Traditionally this is served in a demitasse cup, but I need more than that, at least a mugful. And in summer, over ice, this is the bomb. If it’s after 5:00 (and it always is somewhere), I bet some alcohol would mix in just fine.