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Can you please peel the pomegranate for me, I said to my daughter recently as I rushed madly to finish last minute jobs before the dinner guests arrived. Ten minutes later, a beautiful glass bowl sat in the centre of my fruit platter, filled with little red rubies. It gave it all a fabulously gourmet look.
How did you do it all so quick, I asked my daughter.
“I gave the pomegranate a good tap all round with the back of a spoon,” she replied. “When I cut it, the seeds all separated easily.”
Where did you learn to do that, I asked.
“I saw Nigella do it on TV.”
Note to self: try not to yell at kids when they watch too much TV – they might actually be learning something.
I have been pleasantly surprised by the pomegranates that I have been buying in recent weeks. Although not as sweet as the anaar that is available in India, these seem a vast improvement from the ones that used to be stocked at the supermarkets in previous years.
Use them not only to liven up your fruit platters, but also to make your salads and raitas more exciting. Pomegranate juice, supposedly healthier than other fruit juices, is a refreshing drink in summer or winter.
If you are a cocktail aficionado, you might have used Grenadine, a pomegranate extract.
But one of the best-known uses of the pomegranate comes from Persian food in which pomegranate molasses is frequently used: ‘fesenjoon’ is one of those simply-to-die-for preparations that is made in Iran with duck, pheasant or chicken, in a walnut and pomegranate sauce.
Pomegranate Juice, street style
- 2 medium pomegranates, seeded
- 1 lime
- 6 tsp sugar
- Black salt to taste
- Chat masala to taste
Put pomegranate kernels in blender, add about a cup of water and whizz. Pass through a fine sieve. Add lime juice, sugar, black salt and chat masala and mix well. (You could add a little water to dilute if you feel the need). Pour over ice to serve.
Tip: Vary the amount of lime and sugar based on sweetness of pomegranate.
- 3 cups yoghurt
- 1 cup pomegranate kernels
- Salt, black salt and red chilli powder to taste
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp bhuna jeera (roasted cumin powder)
- ¼ bunch fresh coriander leaves, chopped
- 2-3 mint leaves for garnish
Whisk yoghurt well (add a little water if required). Season with spices, add in the pomegranate and coriander, and mix well. Place mint leaves decoratively on top.
- 1 bunch flat-leaf parsely
- 1 cup pomegranate kernels
- 2/3 cup burghul
- 1 cup chopped celery
- ½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup mint leaves
- Pomegranate dressing:
- ¾ cup pomegranate juice
- 1 small clove garlic
- ½ tsp salt
- Freshly cracked pepper
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Soak burghul in boiling water, covered, for ten to fifteen minutes. (Add water to just below the surface of the burghul). When done, fork through to separate.
Finely chop parsley and mint leaves. Toss together in a deep bowl, along with celery and pomegranate. Cover with cling-wrap and chill.
To prepare dressing, crush garlic and salt together and then mix in olive oil, pepper and pomegranate juice. Whisk well.
Just before serving, toss through walnuts and dressing.
- 2 cups pomegranate juice
- 1 1/2 cups orange juice
- 1 1/2 cups sparkling water
- 1 cup tablespoons vodka
- Ice cubes
Mix all ingredients together in a large jug and add ice cubes. (Make your ice cubes with a pomegranate kernel in each).
Chicken in Pomegranate Sauce
- 6 chicken breast fillets
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Salt and red chilli powder to taste
- ½ cup mint leaves
- ½ cup coriander leaves
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
Put garlic, chilli powder, mint and coriander leaves in food processor and whizz till smooth. Add in salt, lemon juice, olive oil and pomegranate juice and process again.
Pour over chicken breasts and marinate for a couple of hours.
Cook in a preheated 180-degree oven for 30-35 minutes.
Serve with salad greens and couscous.
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