Over the last few years, I have found myself intrigued by trying new things while still trying to maintain my tough and stubborn it’s-all-about-doing-things-my-way exterior. I guess I have my years of living abroad to blame for this…though it isn’t a bad thing at all. When you move to another country or even visit, you tend to encounter opportunities in spades to try new things. Food is surely at the tippy-top of that list. Pomegranate has certainly earned its own chapter in the ongoing chronicles of my fetish with experimentation. It was my Hungarian colleague, Veronika who brought this bright fruit to my attention. I believe we had rambled to a nearby Marks and Spencer, close to our office on Mortimer Street, not too far from Oxford Street. As we rambled through the fruit section, I saw her pick up this weird looking reddish fruit that looked like a pommerac that had eaten too many pizzas. Or a maroon guava that had an underactive thyroid gland.
On asking what it was, she simply answered, “A Pomegranate.” With my signature curiosity, I prodded her for more information. How did she eat it? Plain like that? Did one use her/her fingers to eat it? Or is there the need for a knife? I was abound with questions – annoyingly so, I’m sure. All in all, it led me to purchase my first pomegranate over that weekend at my local Waitrose on North End Road, close to my tube station, Fulham Broadway. I’m truly going down the London memory lane today! I remember feeling uncertain and a little naughty. As if I were about to cheat on my ride or dies, bananas or even worse, the coveted pink lady apple. My foreboding feelings were certainly on point, as from the minute we connected, it was love. No lust! Now I want any and everything to do with pomegranate. I did a bit of research too – to fuel my “self-perceived smarts” as my bestie phrased it recently.
With a few clicks over to the online home of my favourite supermarket chain, Waitrose, I quickly learned that pomegranates are “a symbol of fertility in many countries and have a hard, reddish yellow skin, filled with granules of bright pink flesh. Deliciously sweet and juicy, you can eat the seeds and flesh but not the skin. Look for fruit that is smooth and shiny, not withered. Pomegranates are rich in vitamin C. Waitrose further advises that it is “best eaten as it is or included in fruit salads.” Preparation tips are simple. “To loosen the flesh, roll the whole pomegranate on a hard surface, pressing down with your hand. Then cut in half and scoop out the centre with a spoon. Remove the white pith, as it is bitter. Alternatively, eat the flesh straight from the skin. To extract the juice, place the seeds in a sieve and press with the back of a spoon or use a lemon squeezer. Pomegranate juice stains so be careful when preparing them.”
So where does the mighty pomegranate like to hang out with its sweet yet tangy self? Is it at the bakery scoring in cakes and pastries? Or at the bar in signature cocktails and spritzers? Maybe curled up with someone and a good book in a hot cup of tea?
The world of recipes has always been a wonder to me and now with the Internet, instructions on how to experiment are…just…a…click…away. Doesn’t make cooking any easier, sadly. I digress. Pomegranate is an all-rounder and is one of those ingredients that can fit in anywhere. Here are a few recipes I found, that I’d like to share. Now to find some pomegranate!
1. Aubergine salad with feta & mint dressing from Waitrose.
2. Half Baked Harvest, is a blog run by food lover, Tieghan, who started cooking when she was 15. She features a great recipe for a Caramelized Butternut, Crispy Kale + Fontina Pizza, with pomegranate salsa.
3. With lamb being my favourite meat, I had to search for as many lamb/pomegranate recipes I could find. Stumbled upon this Lamb Chops With Pomegranate Relish recipe on Bon Appetit.
Now that we’ve been nice for Santa, let’s be a little naughty. It’s only June. We can make up for it by October for sure. Let me tell you, my love for pomegranate intensified when I had my first Pomegranate Martini. Yup. Alcohol is a great side kick for les grenades! And with gin being my favourite, it’s just recipe after recipe into my collection. Here are a few of my favourites!
1. I love Jenna’s recipe for Pomegranate and Gin cocktail with muddled Rosemary on her blog, Olive and Herb.
2. Love…love…LOVE Naomi’s recipe for Pomegranate & Purple Basil Gin Smash on her blog, Bakers Royal.
So if you’ve never ventured into pomegranate waters, take it from me, though they look weird and may set off your trypophobia, pomegranate is definitely worth a try!