So, this year I am even MORE obsessed with pomegranates! I just can’t get enough!
The pomegranate is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub. The pomegranate originated in the region extending from Iran to northern India, and has been cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean region. Eating pomegranates as a whole can have anti-inflammatory effects and can protect from various diseases like type-2 diabetes, and obesity. Regular consumption helps in improving gut health and digestion.
In the Jewish faith, pomegranates are traditionally eaten on Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) because it has 613 seeds, which coincide with the 613 commandments of the Torah. In addition, some scholars think the pomegranate was the original forbidden fruit. So that’s why I love it so much, ha!
Pomegranates are a defining feature of Persian food, highlighted prominently in Yasmin Kahn’s gorgeous cookbook, Saffron Tales. The following are her recipes. They are extremely accessible and, I found, a whole new flavor palette for my palate that was surprising and addictive. Try these now, as they are in season and relatively cheap. They are 99 cents at Aldi currently. Also, you can find pomegranate molasses, used in the second recipe, at Fox Farm.
Kahn says, “Like many cultures around the world, Iranians welcome people to the dining table with a blessing, our equivalent of ‘bon appetit’, if you will. We offer this blessing to each other when we begin and end meals, and your fellow diners will repeat it to you if you seem to be enjoying a particularly tasty meal. The phrase is ‘Noosh-e jan’ and literally translated means ‘Let your soul be nourished by what you are eating.’
Try a pomegranate. Noosh-e jan!
Pomegranate mint yogurt
2 cups Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 ½ tablespoons mint leaves, finely chopped
6 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Olive oil for drizzling
Mix the yogurt, dried mint, half of the fresh mint, and 5 tablespoons for pomegranate seeds together with the salt and pepper. Just before serving, sprinkle the remainder of the pomegranate seeds and the rest of the mint on top and finish with a small drizzle of olive oil.
1 cup lentils
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 cups water
1/3 cup rice
1 medium beet, peeled and finely grated
4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock or bone broth
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 small bunch mint, finely chopped
1 medium bunch cilantro, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For the toppings:
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ cup Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
Wash the lentils and then leave to soak in a bowl of water for 15 minutes before draining.
Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan with a lid. Add the onion and fry over a low heat for 10 minutes with the lid off. When the onion has softened, add the garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add cumin and turmeric, stir and fry for 30 seconds. Add lentils and water, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the rice, beets, pomegranate molasses, stock, salt, and pepper and cook for 20 minutes.
Add the herbs and olive oil and cook for final 10 minutes. You may need to add a touch more water if the soup is looking a bit thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your preference.
When the soup is ready, prepare your toppings. In a small bowl, mix the garlic, yogurt, and cilantro. Lightly toast the walnuts in a small pan over medium heat for 1 minute.
Serve the soup with a generous dollop of the herby yogurt and finish with the toasted walnuts and the pomegranate seeds.