There is a scene in an old Bollywood film called Pakeezah (which means Pure), where the protagonist, a courtesan, is reading a letter from a man she has never met but has fallen in love with.
She’s lying by a fountain, in the middle of an opulent room, with her long hair soaking in the cool, rose petal laden and presumably fragrant waters of the fountain pool.
Not a bad way to unwind after a hard day’s work.
So much has changed – or perhaps nothing has – the fountain is now a bathtub and the letter is now an e-mail, no a text – and hopefully the “hard day’s work” doesn’t involve entertaining gentleman callers.
Technology may have progressed but the turmoil of romance remains the same.
It’s not what we do that’s changed – or ever will for human emotions are eternal. It’s how we do them that has undergone such drastic and decidedly un-romantic transformations.
And the how is what makes all the difference, putting the magic and mystery in human existence.
Romance is eternal but romance today is all harrowed frenzy and brisk efficiency – compatibility checklist dating where convenience comes first, love second.
It’s the hard lines of our minds rather than the softer ones of our hearts that run the dating game now.
Really, IS this romance?
Call me a die-hard romantic but Love, my friends is not the place for efficiency, nor convenience. It is not a give and take proposition. It’s not a business deal.
The scent of rosewater makes me imagine a time when there was more time – to dream, to contemplate the fires of our existence, the mysteries of our hearts.
An era when we allowed Love to reveal her mysteries, rather than try to bulldoze her into our schedules or analyze her on Google.
An era of mystics long gone.
So am I the only die-hard romantic out here? Or do I need to get a copy of He’s Just Not That Into You and then proceed to shoot myself?
In the meantime, these Rosewater Almond Macaroons just might tap your inner mystic and make you believe in good old-fashioned romance again.
Rosewater Almond Macaroons
Other than the obvious intensely nutty-chewy benefits of eating macaroons (NOT the more fashionable and trendy macarons, but old-fashioned, outdated macarooooons), the great fun of making this is the little rosewater trick that will make you feel like a princess or at the very least, a memsahib. (We’ll just leave the courtesan out because I’m pretty sure none of us wants to feel like one).
I know it is standard to use blanched almonds, but I didn’t have any on hand – and anyway, I kind of like the color combination that comes from using the regular ones. The peanuts were an experiment, and I quite liked the result. But just use a whole cup of almonds if you want to go forthe more traditional.
Between the scent of the cardamom, the sugary nuttiness of the nuts and the rosewater, these cookies are guaranteed to transport you somewhere far beyond your computer, smartphone, cubicle or food truck and into the lost, haunted corridors of long-forgotten palaces.
Make them. Eat them. Dream.
3 cardamom pods
1/2 cup raw peanuts
1/2 cup raw almonds
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg white
2 tablespoons rosewater
8-10 whole almonds for decoration
Preheat the oven to 350.
Crack open the cardamom pods and put the black seeds into a plastic bag. Bash with something heavy until you have a powder.
Process the peanuts, almonds, sugar, cardamom powder and salt in a food processor, pulsing until you have a fine sugary rubble, but not a paste.
Add the egg white and pulse until the mixture comes together.
Sprinkle some of the rosewater onto your clean hands. Using your fragrant princess palms, take tablespoon sized balls of dough and roll to form a ball. Flatten then slightly and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
Press one whole almond onto each cookie. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely.
Makes 8-10 Scheherazade-worthy cookies.