The term ‘rose water’ immediately leaves you feeling blissful. The thought of its sweet fragrance floating in the air uplifts one’s mood.
Such is the impact of this clear essence, which has been used across generations in a variety of affairs from skin care and culinary arts to religious devotion.
But despite its widespread use, few have invested in naturally distilled rose water and even fewer would know of Kashmir’s last surviving manual rose water maker. Today, most manufacturers are employing mechanical techniques to meet the large-scale demand of this scented liquid.
The essence maker’s tale
Abdul Aziz Kozgar of Srinagar is continuing the craft of distilling natural rose water in his over 100-year-old shop, ‘Arq-i-Gulab even today. This is a man who mastered the art under his father’s guidance, and refuses to give up its tradition.
His family brought the manual process of making rose water to India after learning it from their ancestors in Turkey, some 400 years ago. But today it seems like Abdul will be the last chip off the old block. The next generation seems unlikely to take up the laborious methodology, and with a dying customer base chances of earning a profit look slim.
His rustic shop holds the enchanting experience of extraction and distillation. Apart from the arq-e-gulab, his dusty wooden shelves display a range of syrups and perfumes stored in ancient bottles like a luxury to be savoured. Interestingly, though, a 200 ml bottle of rose water costs nothing more than Rs 40.
Watch this video to see how Abdul Aziz Kozgar distills rose water in his shop.