Monday, 21 November 2016

Tasting Jerusalem #40 – Pomegranate

Written by Dee

After a September break, October 2016’s featured ingredient was pomegranate, in its fresh fruit form.  The molasses derived from boiling and reducing the juice from the seeds was featured a while ago (click here for details).

Something I discovered while reading up on pomegranates and their use in Jerusalemite cuisine was that the seeds, the edible part of the fruit, came in different colours, ranging from almost white to a rich purple colour.  I initially thought the lighter coloured seeds signified some sort of deficiency with the fruit.

Something else I learned during ‘pomegranate month’ was how to remove the seeds without making too much of a mess.  I’d never quite mastered this stage of the preparation despite several experiments with knives, spoons, vegetable peelers and my bare hands.  There are several written articles and videos on line, including Sarene’s from our Tasting Jerusalem community; click here for details

Burnt Aubergine with Garlic, Lemon and Pomegranate Seeds
There are a few recipes in the Jerusalem cookbook which include pomegranate seeds, and the one I chose, the Burnt Aubergine with Garlic, Lemon and Pomegranate Seeds on page78 and 79, showcased them brilliantly.  The recipe turned out to be fairly simple to follow but took a while to prepare.  The burnt aubergine turned out to be another great discovery for me.  There’s no getting round the fact that it take a while to prepare, makes a mess of your gas hob and fills the kitchen with smoke, but the flavour that is produced from all this is amazing:  strong, smoky and creamy all at the same time.  It formed the base of the recipe, with the pomegranate seeds adding intense fruity bursts as well as acting alongside the flat leaf parsley to provide the finished dish with a colourful garnish.  There was an option in the commentary accompanying the recipe to add tahini as a final garnish but I decided not to take this up as I felt there were enough flavours on offer already.

The dish was part of a meze arrangement, as recommended in the book and was accompanied by a few recipes from Michael Solomonov’s book ‘Zahav – A world of Israeli Cooking’.  The book was recommended a while ago by the Tasting Jerusalem community but was only a recent purchase for Jay and me.  This, and ‘Palestine on a Plate’ by Joudie Kalla will ensure that there are lots more delicious recipes to try out.

The picture below shows the whole meze spread.  The dishes are;  Burnt Aubergine with Garlic, Lemon and Pomegranate Seeds, fried Kashkaval cheese (we had to use Halloumi for this recipe as Kashkaval was not available), Fritas de Prasa (fried leek patties) and Agristada (egg-lemon sauce).
“Tasting Jerusalem is a virtual cooking community exploring the vibrant flavors and cuisine of the Middle East through the lens of Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi published by Ebury Press. You can follow along and cook with us by subscribing to  following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, liking our Facebook Page or joining our Google+ Community and finally checking out all of our groups’ dishes on Pinterest

(Please note: I have listed the UK publisher and have linked to the UK Amazon site.  The US details are provided on the web site)

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