Pomegranate is a small tree, bearing a fruit that is also referred to as pomegranate. Pomegranate contains several seeds inside the rind and seeds are surrounded by juicy red flesh. Around 600 seeds are present inside the fruit and they are called ‘arils’. In India, Pakistan and Middle Eastern countries, pomegranate is popularly known as ‘anar’. Pomegranate juice has sweet and sour taste that can be used in making various pomegranate recipes. Some of the popularly served pomegranate dishes are pomegranate shake, pomegranate salad and pomegranate pudding.
History of Pomegranate
Since ancient times, pomegranate is a cultivar of Caucasus and it is believed to be the native of Iran. Pomegranate has been the cultivar of India, Pakistan, Southeast Asia, Turkey and Malaysia. In 1769, the fruit was introduced in Latin America by the Spanish colonists. According to Greek Mythology, pomegranate was considered as an ancient fruit during Iron Age. Now, pomegranate is mainly cultivated for its juice in various parts of world.
Culinary Uses of Pomegranate
Pomegranate seeds are very small but they are used in innumerable ways in cooking. The most popular use of pomegranate seeds is to extract juice that can be used in several ways while cooking. Pomegranate juice can be taken independently as a drink. It is also used widely in making cocktails and mocktails. Pomegranate juice is little sour in taste hence it is fondly used as a substitute of tomato in various recipes. Pomegranate dishes also include soups and stews. Pomegranate soup can be served either hot or cold. Another most common use of pomegranate seeds is to make then dry and grind to make ‘anardana powder’, a spice widely used to give an acidic taste to curries, chutney and sauces. Spreads, dips and jams are some other pomegranate recipes that are well-liked in global cuisine. Various salad dressings and meat marinades include pomegranate sauce where as red-fleshy seeds are commonly used as a garnish in salads and puddings.
Popular Pomegranate Recipes
Pomegranate recipes are popular across the world and here are few of them:
• Ash-e-anar – It’s a Persian soup dish made with pomegranate juice.
• Gullac – This is one of the most popular pomegranate dishes. It is a dessert from Turkish cuisine made up of milk containing pomegranate and a pastry.
• Narsharab – In Azerbaijan cuisine, this pomegranate sauce is mainly served with fish kebabs.
• Muhammara – It’s Turkish spread mead up of molasses, pomegranate juice, roasted pepper and walnuts.
• Grenadine – It’s thick pomegranate syrup widely used in making cocktail drinks.
Cuisines Commonly Making Pomegranate Dishes
Pomegranate dishes are quiet popular in Middle Eastern cuisine such as in Turkish cuisine as well as in Iranian cuisine, the native cuisine of Pomegranate. Pomegranate desserts and soup dishes are commonly served in Turkish cuisine. Sweet pomegranate spreads are fondly eaten with toast in Turkish and Syrian breakfast. Pomegranate juice has a very important place in Iranian dishes as it is used as an acidic agent to make the dish tangy and sour. Pomegranate juice is a very popular drink in Persian and Indian cuisine. Another form of pomegranate that makes delicious pomegranate dishes in Persian, Indian as well as in Pakistani cuisine is ‘anardana powder’. Cuisines of Greek and Cyprus are not far behind in making sweet and savory pomegranate dishes. Even meat dishes are often made in these cuisines with pomegranate glaze.
Preferred Methods of Making Pomegranate Dishes
• Boiled – Pomegranate soup is usually made by boiling the pomegranate juice with other ingredients. Thick pomegranate syrup is also made with this method.
• Garnished – Pomegranate dishes often includes seeds of pomegranate as a garnish for puddings and desserts.
• Extracted – Pomegranate juice is extracted from the seeds to be added to various pomegranate recipes.
• Dressed – Pomegranate juice is often used as a salad dressing.
• Marinated – Many pomegranate recipes include meat marinades also.
• Glazed – Pomegranate syrup is quiet often used to glaze meats.
Nutritive Value of Pomegranate
Nutritional properties of pomegranate and pomegranate dishes are as follows:
• Pomegranate recipes are rich in vitamin C and vitamin B5.
• Pomegranate is a good source of potassium and acts as an antioxidant.
• The seeds of pomegranate are high in unsaturated oil and dietary fibers.
• Pomegranate juice is also effective in reducing risk of heart diseases and also helps in reducing hypertension.
• The anti-bacterial properties of pomegranate dishes are helpful in preventing dental plaque.
• In India, pomegranate juice is considered as an Ayurvedic remedy against diarrhea and dysentery.
Buying and Storing of Pomegranates
Pomegranate should be purchased while looking the outer skin of the fruit. The skin should be bright colored and firm in texture. A heavy weight fruit indicates the large amount of fleshy seeds inside. Over-ripe pomegranate is not suitable for consumption. While storing pomegranate, it should be kept in cool temperature, if possible it should be kept in refrigerator. Pomegranate dishes should also be kept in refrigerator and consumed with in 2-3 days. Pomegranate seeds or juice can be kept in freezer for long time and can be used as and when required.
Types of Pomegranates
There are several species of pomegranate are cultivated across the world. Some of the most popular varieties are as follows:
• Kandhari – It’s a large variety of pomegranate with dense and deep-red fleshy seeds inside.
• Kabul – This type of pomegranate is widely grown in Afghanistan and it is named after the capital of the country.
• Spanish Ruby – It is round in shape with bright colored thin skin. It has sweet and rosy-pink colored flesh inside.
• Halwa – A variety of pomegranate grown mainly in Iraq. Many more varieties of pomegranate are existing throughout the world that varies in size, color and quality.
• In Britain, the first tree of pomegranate was planted by King Henry VIII.
• In Persia, a basket full of pomegranate is considered auspicious at the time of wedding.