I know spring is here when I open the windows of my room in the morning, and smell the fragrance of Bousfeir blossoms emanating from our garden.
Bousfeir is the Lebanese name for the Seville orange, also known as bitter orange and bigarade orange grown all over the Mediterranean, and commonly used in the cuisine of this region in a variety of recipes. The most common recipe to the Mediterranean countries producing bitter orange is jam and marmalade; even though the preparation method differs from one place to another, no pectin is added since the fruit is richer in pectin than sweet orange.
Bitter orange has a special place in the heart of the Lebanese gastronomy; the southern coastal cities are renowned for their large citrus and bousfeir orchards, and the city of Maghdoushe is famous for the production of orange blossom water or Mazaher, which has become a tradition among its families. Mazaher is used to prepare syrup (Qater) that drizzles Arabic and Lebanese sweets such as nammoura, knefe, and baklawa etc. Mazaher also flavors many types of desserts like roz bi haleeb (rice pudding), maamoul, and layali lebnan. It constitutes the basis of “white coffee” or ahwe bayda, a soothing caffeine-free drink, consumed after meals as a digestive. A syrupy preserve is also prepared by simmering the juice of bitter orange in sugar, and boiling over medium fire. Bousfeir syrup is used to prepare refreshing summer cocktails and tahini sauce.