The most often found fruit in our fruit bowl at home is the pomegranate. Easily available all through the year, I love this fruit for it’s intense red colour, juiciness and many health benefits. It’s also one of the fruits which are most resistant to pesticides because of it’s thick outer skin. (a fact that I read in a reader’s digest issue)
While I’m not one to substitute juices for fruit ,we made a compromise at home and invested in the bullet mixer many years ago. The advantage being that this mixer crushes the fruit while retaining the fiber. While it still leaves no work for the teeth, the smoothie like puree is a whole lot healthier than strained clear juices which are quickly converted into simple sugars during the digestive process.
Most homes go through phases where the teenagers have to give in to wearing braces for their teeth and we too are part of that process. As a result of this a lot of attention must be paid to hard bits like the pomegranate arils which can get annoying and painfully stuck between the metal and tooth crevices.
While I was pondering on ways to add the pomegranate to my child’s diet in different ways, it suddenly struck me that a dear foodie friend of mine had made her own pomegranate molasses.
Pomegranate molasses is a reduction of pomegranate juice with the addition of natural sugar and lemon juice. Once it is boiled down and reduced to a thick syrupy consistency, it can be used to add a delicious depth of flavour.
So, the day started with the de-seeding of 2 pomegranates to make a small amount of pomegranate reduction. Once the seeds were thoroughly blended with water, it was mixed with a few tablespoons of panam kalakandu podi, juice of half a lemon and set on low heat. For a small quantity, the process takes from 25-30 minutes. Once the mixture starts to boil, it must be allowed to simmer until the waters evaporate and the mixture thickens. The pale pink of the fresh pomegranate juice gets more pronounced with the addition of the citrus juice. As it boils and reduces down, the colour darkens to an intense plum. The mixture needs to be stirred regularly so that the sugars don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Once reduced, it must be set aside to cool. The molasses thickens further while cooling.
The pomegranate molasses carries an intense taste of the pomegranate which is further enhanced by the sugar and lime. It’s a full rounded sweet –sour flavour. While the first batch wasn’t as syrupy as the store bought molasses, the taste was absolutely on point. Maybe it would be a bit more shiny if more sugar was added but I’m happy with the colour, consistency and taste.
The first dish that I plan on making is a simple dip called muhammara which is a Middle Eastern dish made with walnuts, roasted red bell peppers, pomegranate molasses, olive oil and sesame seed paste (tahini). It can be eaten along with millet crackers or on toast as a light summer snack. The pomegranate molasses can also be used to add flavour and colour to a lime juice or iced tea.
Once made the pomegranate molasses can last upto 6 months. I on the other hand prefer to make small batches and enjoy it within the week. This easy to make condiment can also be used as a sauce, in place of the preservative laden ketchup. Try it with your favourite cutlets or as a salad dressing and imbibe some of the pomegranate goodness along the way! Conscious eating is the healthiest way forward.