Heck Yeah! Mint and Rose Petals in Persian Cuisine

There’s so much that I experience on a weekly basis while at home or travelling that is related to plants and food that doesn’t seem to have a place here… but should. As a result of this oversight, I’ve decided to start a regular feature called, Heck Yeah! that’s devoted to the simple, yet wonderful things that are worth a mention.

The inaugural Heck Yeah! comes from an impromptu dinner I enjoyed last Friday here in Toronto at a Persian restaurant called The Pomegranate. The atmosphere and food was inspiring, most especially the use of herbs. I came away from our meal full of enthusiasm for Persian food and some new ways to use up the herbs I grow in abundance in my garden. Luck was on our side and we arrived hoping for a table just after someone had cancelled. If you’d like to experience the food for yourself, I’d suggest making a reservation. Tables fill up fast.

Please forgive the poor quality of these images. They were taken with my phone’s camera in very low mood lighting.


I thought I’d tried every yoghurt-based beverage out there, and then I found doogh. More savoury than sweet, doogh is a refreshing combination of yoghurt and carbonated water, flavoured with dried herbs and spices. I believe mine was topped with dried and ground mint and rose petals, but I have since researched out recipes that include cumin and cardamon. I’m sure there are other secret ingredients and variations as well.

Persian Mint Tea

My friend Jen enjoyed a classic Persian mint tea, which is a simple drink (fresh mint leaves brewed in hot water) made special by this beautiful presentation. We both agreed that when it comes to food and drink, the rituals are as important as the food itself.

Rose Water and Pistachio Ice Cream with Pomegranate

After a large and satisfying meal, I didn’t think I had the room left for dessert, yet I could not walk away without trying the house rose water ice cream. The portion was generous — enough for 4 people — but we managed to devour it all between two of us, and on full stomachs no less.

Roses are an under-used flavour in Western cooking. One of my goals for my forthcoming herbs and edible flowers book, “Easy Growing: Organic Herbs and Edible Flowers from Small Spaces” was to encourage more people to make culinary use of the roses that they grow. A scoop of rose petal ice cream at a night market in Oaxaca, Mexico back in April 2000 was my introduction to this fragrant ingredient and the way I would suggest first trying the flavour if you’re unsure about eating it for the first time.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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8 thoughts on “Heck Yeah! Mint and Rose Petals in Persian Cuisine

  1. We just picked up our first rose water this week! We tried it in a martini, and it was too pungent. The ice cream idea sounds great. Can’t wait for your next book!

  2. I grew up in rural New Brunswick, where the summers were full of the smell of wild roses, huge bushes grew in ditches on all the side roads. Over the years my mother has made multiple uses of the rose hips including jelly and teas. But my all-time favourite use of roses in cooking is to make a simple rose-petal sandwich. You need: fresh baked bread spread with cream cheese, sprinkle with salt and pepper and then lay several layers of just-picked wild rose petals. Divine!

  3. My mother and aunts picked red rose petals for jam & used to fill paczki, candied citrus rinds in the dough, heavenly fresh out of the frying pot, we didn’t wait for them to cool, didn’t wait for powdered sugar on top

  4. an aunt in Poland had a tall (to my 9-year-old self) maze made out of rose hedges, never saw such a concentration of blooms, felt strange chopping off just the heads of the blooming roses, filling up canvas sacks for jam making

  5. Everyone should have a patch of mint under their hose faucet. Amazing for fresh hot or iced mint teas, adding to salads, etc.

    My friend recently introduced me to a homemade rose water she makes from the rose petals and it’s incredible. I need to get cuttings of her rose bush so I can get the same mild and delicious flavor – not at all like the rose water they sell in stores.

  6. Never had anything I knew was rose flavored except a light breeze blowing throughout the garden. This was nice, made my mouth water and brought back pleasant memories of Oaxaca

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