A favorite time of year for me is the early harvest season when the produce sections of markets are deluged with seasonal fruit, vegetables and nuts. And there is one particular fruit that we are extremely in deep-like with and that is the pomegranate.
The pomegranate is as rich in its 4000 year old history as it is in texture, color and flavor. In ancient civilizations, the pomegranate has come to symbolize many things from abundance to prosperity to inspiring mythical lore, but one thing for certain is that the pomegranate is one of natures finest works of art.
Pomegranate translated in French means seeded apple, and in some scholastic circles, they believe that the pomegranate was the forbidden fruit and not the apple that got Adam and Eve in trouble in the Garden of Eden. I can certainly understand why a person would be intrigued as to what is hidden within the crown-like fruit?
The rich, sweet, tangy flavor of the seeds (known as arils) is well worth the effort it takes to peel through the rind. Once you pick through the honey-comb like skin, you can either eat the seeds fresh, or make juices and sauces or add the arils to salad dressings or use as a food garnish. Not only do the pomegranate seeds taste great, these tiny, red, pearls are high in Vitamin C and potassium. They also provide a great source of fiber, are low in calories, and are considered as one of the super-foods on the planet!
We use an Indian variety of pomegranate called daru that produces a very sour tasting seed known as anardana seeds. These particular seeds are widely used for their sweet-sour taste in Indian and Iranian cooking. It adds flavor to vegetables and legumes, and is also used as a food preservative. In Middle Eastern cuisine the fresh seeds are used for accentuating dishes such as salads and dips. The dried anardana pips can also be used as an alternative for raisins in desserts, salad toppings and in other sweet treats. Or you can grind the roasted seeds and use as an excellent flavoring agent.
Back home in Israel, the seeds are used to make pomegranate syrup, which in turn, is used in creating excellent gravies and sauces, especially for desserts. In our own home, we like to roast and grind the anardana seeds into a powder that we add to our favorite dishes for that unique sweet and sour taste.
This past week we celebrated Holy week with a festive meal of Indian Okra with Pomegranate Spice (Anardana) and Turkish Dolma Rice with Artichoke & Pomegranate-Date Syrup. See below for recipes: