I went to a Russian school in Azerbaijan. Or to be more precise, it was a mixed school, with half of the students getting their education in the Russian language, with the other half – in Azeri. I was in the Russian half. I remember how as a schoolgirl I was enamored with the writing of the Russian writer Aleksandr Kuprin. One of my favorite stories by Kuprin was Granatoviy Braslet or The Garnet Bracelet. It was a love story. The plot evolved around a garnet studded bracelet the main character, Vera, a married young woman, received from her secret admirer who loved her passionately and selflessly. But let’s put the love aside now and talk about the bracelet, because, as it turns out, a bracelet can be edible too. How? Bear with me, I’ll tell you.
Granat in Russian means garnet. It is a precious stone, almost burgundy red with bright sparkling reflection, reminiscent of pomegranate arils. Granat in Russian also means pomegranate. In fact, the stone granat takes its name from the fruit granat, which in turn orinates from Latin granatus - pomegranate. So, the point of my ramble is that Granatoviy Braslet (the stone one) from Kuprin’s story actually inspired the creation of the edible Granatoviy Braslet, a salad that is shaped like a thick bracelet, studded with pomegranate seeds.
Numerous variations of this salad exist in Russia and across ex-Soviet countries and this is one I found in my recipe collection. The bracelet “effect” is achieved by placing a glass in the middle of the salad plate and assembling the layers of vegetables, eggs, chicken, and walnuts around it. The glass is removed once the layers have been assembled and the salad is covered with fresh pomegranate seeds all around. Beautiful! And who says you can’t eat a bracelet?
Layered “Pomegranate Bracelet” Salad
Makes 1 large bracelet, enough for 8-10
Note: If you are counting calories, use low fat mayonnaise for the dressing. Also, you may skip the dressing on some of the layers, and use it less frequently, if you wish.
3 medium carrots, boiled in water until tender, and peeled
3 medium potatoes, boiled in water until tender, and peeled
2 medium beets, boiled in water until tender and peeled (boil separately from carrots and potatoes)
3 hard-boiled eggs, shelled
1 cup walnuts, coarsely ground
2 medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cooked in slightly salted water, drained, and shredded into thin strips
salt, to taste
pomegranate seeds (from 1 large pomegranate)
For the Dressing:
mayonnaise, or half mayonnaise + half sour cream (reduced fat ok for both)
Using a coarse side of a box grater, grate the carrots, potatoes, beets, and eggs. Place on separate plates.
Put a tall glass in the middle of a large flat serving platter. You will arrange the ingredients in layers on the plate around that glass, and remove the glass once the salad has been assembled. Begin layering the ingredients evenly on the plate in the following order. Sprinkle the layers with some salt, but take care not to oversalt as mayonnaise is salty already.
2. Dressing (about 2 tablespoons, spread evenly)
3. Half of the beets
8. Half of the chicken
12. Remaining chicken
14. Remaining beets
Slather some dressing all over the “bracelet”. Carefully remove the glass from the plate. Generously sprinkle the salad with pomegranate seeds all around. Slightly press to adhere. Chill the salad in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving, to allow the flavors a chance to blend.