Rose Syrup is an ingredient used in certain Asian countries, predominantly Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and India to flavor and color desserts and beverages. With no remotely similar products anywhere in the world, its presence in recipes cannot be replaced.
Each country has its own version, though Singapore typically uses the Rose Syrup from neighboring Indonesia. Indonesia’s version of Rose Syrup is a beautiful deep red hue with a luxuriously thick consistency. Rose Syrup emanates the floral fragrance of its namesake and exudes a distinctive floral sweetness on the palate. Produced mainly in Indonesia, a few brands of Rose Syrup can be found in Asian markets, though the Indonesian kind should not be confused with varieties from India.
Those from India (known as Gulabjal) possess a completely different color, texture and flavor which are not interchangeable with its Southeast Asian counterpart. All Indonesian brands selling Rose Syrup have unmistakable packaging- clear glass bottles that show the rich redness of the syrup and labeled “Rose Syrup” and/or “Sirup Mawar.” India’s version is typically called Rose essence or Rose water and comes packaged in smaller, clear bottles with the clear or light pink Rose essence liquid.
Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore use Rose Syrup on many types of shaved ice desserts. If you’ve ever had one of these beverage desserts, you might recall a pinkish hue in the liquid of the dessert after the syrup has mixed with the ice and often coconut milk that is present in those desserts. India uses Rose essence predominantly in an ice cream dessert known as Falooda.