As I walk into the supermarket's produce aisles during the fall season, my eyes light up at the sight of pomegranates. Pomegranates are one of the fruits that was written about in ancient Greek mythology. The pomegranate, a super fruit as I call it, is becoming a popular sight in American supermarkets. Pomegranate seeds are like jewels, which I use as my favorite garnish for lemon rice, yogurt rice and salads.
Pomegranates are native to Persia. The drought-tolerant pomegranate tree has been cultivated in Persia, Iran, Afgahnistan, Russia and the northern part of India for several millenia.
In my village in India, my grandmother's house had a pomegranate tree. But that tree never saw a ripened fruit, because my younger brother, Bhasker and I used to eat all the fruits before they reached maturity. Sometimes my grandmother used to tie a piece of fabric around the fruit to camouflage the fruit to preserve them until their mature stage. But they never used to escape our x-ray eyes. Now I have three trees in my orchard overflowing with fruit. But my passion for pomegranates never diminished. I love pomegranates now as much as I loved them as a child.
The pomegranate's antioxidant power is enormous along with the spice turmeric. In Indian ancient Ayurvedic medicine, pomegranates were extensively used as remedies for thousands of years, including the bark of tree and rind of the fruit. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is believed that pomegranate juice and seeds are the healthful counterbalance for diets rich in sugar and fat. One research study showed that in a test tube, extracts of the fruit can inhibit the spreading of human breast cancer cells and several other cancer cells.
Pomegranate juice has been a popular drink from street vendors in India. Dried pomegranate seed powder called anardhana is used as a spice in Indian food . Anardhana is a souring agent in spice blends such as chaat masala powder. I freeze pomegranate juice to enjoy it throughout the year in cocktails such as pomegranate martinis and margaritas or just to enjoy it as a refreshing drink in the morning. I glaze my meats with pomegranate molasses. A popular traditional Persian dish fesenjan, has sauce that is made from pomegranate juice and ground walnuts that is spooned over chicken.
I hope I inspire you to include pomegranates in your diet. They are so good for you!
Guess what I I decorate my house with during the holiday season? Pomegranates, of course!
For more memorable centerpieces, tablescapes, and recipes (including gluten free recipes), please check out my book, Entertaining From an Ethnic Indian Kitchen, at my website komalinunna.com.