Did I tell you I have been having a lot of cravings lately? Not all healthy I'm afraid. There's coffee ice cream with chocolate fudge sauce, nutella doughnuts. Do you see a trend here- anything with chocolate will do.
However, there is one healthy snack I've been munching on guilt free. Nature's jewels, I like to think of them a nature's rubies. Pomegranates. Even their name sounds regal. Did I tell you my mum's name means heaven's pomegranate in Farsi- Anar.
Although it's a messy affair trying to get these treasures out of their shells, especially when a keen 2 year old helper is involved, the results are worth it. Maryam loves to peel them because that means she can eat them straight away. Raw and fresh. Other times, we coat it in some thick, creamy yoghurt infused with vanilla seeds.
Since moving to Dubai, pomegranates have featured commonly in our meals- as garnishes on hummus and pilafs, as refreshing cocktails, as tangy marinades. But my favorite use of this is in a fattoush salad. My very own individual salad as Akber describes it. Yes, I eat this solo when I make it or order it at a restaurant. It really is too good to share.
The crackle of the Arabic bread, the marriage between sweet and savory, the crunch from every mouthful of peppery radish, the juicy explosion of each cherry tomato. That is how I would describe fattoush.
I have included a recipe for pomegranate molasses too, an essential part of this salad. Although it is readily available in Middle eastern countries, it is so easy to make at home.
4 cups pomegranate juice
1/2 cup sugar
juice of 1 lemon
Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer on medium heat. Keep stirring once in a while for approximately 1.5 hours until the liquid has reduced by half and has thickened. Allow to cool before storing in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Recipe minimally adapted from Alton Brown and makes approximately 1 cup.
Arabic Fattoush Salad:
2 cups chopped lettuce
1 cucumber chopped
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup torn mint leaves
1/2 cup torn flat parsley leaves
4-5 radishes thinly sliced
handful of pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup deep fried or toasted phyllo dough/ pita bread
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbs pomegranate molasses
juice of 1 large lemon
salt to taste
Mix all the salad items in a bowl and toss to mix (except the fried phyllo dough). Prepare the dressing by mixing the oil, molasses and salt. Stir vigorously but you will notice that the molasses and oil will not mix due to differences in viscosity.
Apply the dressing just before serving and sprinkle with the fried phyllo dough.