The mango showers have started in Bangalore and the gardens are blooming. Not only are they lovely to look at, but some flowers are edible, adding a fresh, new dimension to your dishes. Although flowers are often used to decorate cakes, they can also be used in a wide variety of cooking.
Rose petals make a heavenly sauce to spoon over desserts, a handful of lavender flowers will intensify sorbet, Squash blossoms can be fried in batter to become fritters, and gladiola flowers can be stuffed with egg salad or vegetable dips.
Flowers have been used in cooking for centuries, from the Romans to the Incas. It was particularly fashionable in Victorian times; they were popular in salads, particularly violets, primroses, borage and nasturtiums, and were also preserved in vinegar to be used in the winter months.
Cooking with flowers needn't be limited to the summer months. The flavours can be preserved by infusing butters, oils and sugar.
These are often used as a decorative garnish because of their bright colour – however they also have a wonderfully peppery taste, so are great in salads or as an edible garnish.
This is a particularly popular flower to cook with and is used in a wide range of mainly sweet dishes, from mousses to biscuits, scones to shortbread.
Rose petals are often used in Indian & Middle Eastern cooking. Roses are very fragrant and can be used in sweet or savory dishes.
These have a sweet taste and the deeper the colour, the sweeter they taste. As well as being a pretty decoration for cakes and salads, they go particularly well in sorbets.
These beautifully golden flowers taste similar to saffron and are good in pasta and rice dishes.