Pomegranate molasses. It's amazing.
My mother introduced me to this ingredient, by hand-carrying a bottle from home. I have kept a bottle in my cupboard ever since. It's a thick, viscous syrup made out of boiled-down pomegranate juice. The flavor is complex, puckering tart - almost lemony, fruity, and slightly sweet.
What do I do with this?
Use it on meats, my mother said. Rub it into a beef roast, or a pork roast. Spread it over a roast chicken. It is magic, I tell you.
It really is.
The thing is, I really haven't given my attention to pomegranates. My introduction to the fruit when I was a young teenager, and my mother gave me and my sister each a pomegranate, made us change into old clothes and sent us outside to eat it. The tart-sweet juice stained our fingers ruby red and we enjoyed the beautiful fruit, each pod of juice a ruby gem that squirted in our mouths. But that didn't seem like an everyday activity, so we rarely ate them.
But pomegranates have a long and rich history in the Middle East. Perhaps one of the most often mentioned fruit in ancient literature, this fruit is a symbol of wealth and prosperity for ancient Egyptians, a symbol of fertility and fortitude in Iran, was woven onto the garments of the Israelite priests, was carried back by Joshua's spies to show the abundant fruitfulness of the promised land, and figures heavily in the Greek myth of Persephone, in which the goddess dines on pomegranate seeds in the underworld, thus damning her to spend a portion of every year in the underworld.
Not surprisingly, pomegranate also makes its way into many regional dishes. Rubbed into kebabs, used as a garnish on sweets, mixed into drinks, used in relishes and dips, pomegranate has a longstanding tradition across the Mediterranean.
Can I tell you one more thing about pomegranates? Pomegranates are a powerful, nutrient dense food. While packed with vitamin C, vitamin B5, and potassium, it's greatest gift is probably its plentiful source of antioxidants, which counteracts free radical damage to our cells. A growing body of research points to pomegranate's ability to lower heart disease and cancer risks.
Now, you can find pomegranate molasses in a Middle Eastern grocer, or even in a larger grocery store, but you can also make it. The home made sauce is far, far more delicious and fruity. I recommend using a good quality, pure pomegranate juice. Most juices that you will find will have a combination of juices in them - I would stick to 100% pomegranate juice.
For a pomegranate syrup, simply reduce the sauce a little less.
4 cups pomegranate juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup honey
In a sauce pot, stir and heat the ingredients over medium heat until they begin to bubble and the honey dissolves into the juice.
Reduce heat just to simmer. Simmer for about half an hour, stirring occasionally. Then continue to simmer your sauce, but watch and stir your sauce for another fifteen minutes or until it has reduced to one cup. If you leave it unattended, it can burn easily. Pour in a jar and store in the fridge. The sauce will thicken upon cooling.
Yield: 1 cup
*Pistachio Ice Cream with Pomegranate Syrup
*Lamb Kefta, Two Ways
*Stuffed Chicken, or Djaj Mahshi
Shared on Thank Your Body Thursday, Real Food Wednesday, Party Wave Wednesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Fat Tuesday.