I wrote earlier that my favorite vegetable is eggplant. But I have a favorite fruit, too. POMEGRANATE! In California, Farmers Markets, some grocery stores carry this fruit, usually during the pomegranate season, which is around November-February. During that time I run from store to store in search of the juiciest, largest, cutest pomegranates! Then I bring them home and with my daughter who is addicted to pomegranates (runs in the family?) too, indulge in eating this wonderful fruit with crunchy seeds, without caring about the stains they leave on our faces (washable) and clothes (difficult to wash)! If you don’t want this part, buy bags with fresh pomegranate seeds that sell in some groceries. Now, why else I love pomegranates and what we do with it in Azerbaijan.
Pomegranate boasts many health benefits – it is believed to cure nausea and bring energy, and is a good source of Vitamin C, B, is rich in antioxidants and etc. This wonderful fruit is not foreign to Azerbaijani cuisine. The city of Goychay, and several others are famous for their juicy pomegranates that range in taste from sweet to sour and tangy.
Azerbaijanis use pomegranate in a variety of dishes to add flavor and tanginess to them. Thick paste-like syrup called Narsharab is used as a sauce with fish dishes. Freshly squeezed juice of pomegranate mixed with sugar syrup makes a refreshing drink during hot summer days.
This simple and flavorful salad I am posting today makes a great appetizer, too. My dear sister Leyla in Baku shared the recipe with me, so I am dedicating this one to her. Let’s try it together. Have fun seeding the pomegranate!
Preparation time: 1 hour, including boiling potatoes and refrigeration
Cooking time: None
Serves 4 to 6
1 medium pomegranate
4 medium potatoes, boiled and peeled, cut into small bitesize cubes
1 small red onion, cut in half lengthways and finely sliced along the grain
½ cup chopped fresh dill or cilantro (coriander)
3 tablespoons mayonnaise or more, to taste
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste (optional)
VARIATION: If you do not like mayonnaise, substitute it with sour cream or creamy plain yogurt.
1. Extract the seeds from a pomegranate into a bowl as follows. With a sharp knife, cut off the crown top of the pomegranate. Make a shallow spiral cut in the skin around the fruit. Holding with both hands, pull the pomegranate apart to break into half, then into quarters. Invert each pomegranate quarter by pushing the skin with your thumbs to let the seeds fall out. You may need to pick the remaining seeds with your hands. You should be able to get about 1 cup of pomegranate seeds. Remove any white pith and membrane that may have fallen into the bowl, as they are bitter in taste.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine potatoes, onions, pomegranate seeds and fresh herbs. Add mayonnaise, taste for saltiness, then season with salt and pepper to taste, then mix thoroughly with a spoon. If you prefer a moist salad, add more dressing, to taste.