Pomegranate Molasses

Again, inspired by a meal in London. I met one of my lovely friends, SMW,  who is like a brother to me for an evening near London Bridge. While waiting, I sat at the Thames looking at H.M.S. Belfast with the Tower of London and Tower Bridge in the background. God I love the views you see on the Thames and I was very happy to sit there and watch tourists trying to take selfies with these in the background. Some struggled and I offered to help. Must admit, I don’t like how I look in photos but if that’s your thing, then I’m happy to help you out.

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Once SMW turned up, we had a wonder through Borough Market looking for a bite to eat and eventually settled for Meze at Tas Restaurant. Wow the food was amazing. Turkish food is heaven for vegetarians and I enjoyed aubergine, hummus, kisir, chickpeas and lots of bread. Washed down with Turkish beer.

Back home, I wanted to try to make the zeytinyağlı patlican which is an aubergine, tomato, dish. And kisir which contains a lot of goodness including cracked wheat, crushed walnuts, onions, pomegranate molasses, fresh herbs, peppars.

This meant making the molasses as there isn’t any available around in Livingston.

Ingredients:

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1 pomegranate (sadly not from Turkey, but from Peru. Out of season and costing too many airmiles).

1 tablespoon sugar (I didn’t want it to be too sweet as it was going into a savoury dish. To use for desserts, use more sugar)

2 teaspoons  lemon juice. (recipes online don’t always have this. But the molasses in Turkey are made from sour pomegranates, so I needed to add that kick in. The lemon juice also acts as a preservative)

Method:

Chop the pomegranate in half and remove the seeds. As I didn’t know about the bash method, I picked the seeds out singly, by hand whilst smacking kiddos hand as she tried to nick them. I had to be careful to make sure I didn’t get any arials in (the white fleshy bits around the seeds).

The bash method: cut in half, turn over and hold over a bowl. Bash the outer skin and watch the seeds just fall out.

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I placed seeds into my mini mixer and whizzed up. If you don’t have a mixer, just skip and go to the sieving stage. IMG_2204 IMG_2205

I strained to extract the juice. The seeds and pulp was discarded. (as an aside,there is a spice made from the hard seed called anardhana, used as a souring agent. It had a similar consistency to sumac and amchoor and used for tenderising meat as far as I’m aware).

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I put the jucie into a heavy based pan, added the sugar and the lemon. And then cooked to reduce. Now here is confession time, I took my eyes off the mix which seemed to take ages to reduce and BANG it burnt. So had to go out, get another pomegranate and start again. Morale of this story is DO NOT TAKE YOUR EYES OF THE REDUCTION.

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And voila, here is the end result:  (apologies the picture is a bit out of focus)

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Gloopy, lovely and still quite sweet. It is absolutely gorgeous onto top of ice-cream. In the end, I used this in another traditional dish called Baba Ghanoush – or Burnt Aubergine with Tahini. The pomegranate molasses was a little bit lost among the garlic and tahini which was a bit of a shame. Luckily, I have enough left so will use it to make the red onion condiment in the Spice Men’s cookbook.

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Going back to my roots / turmeric

Well unlike Kunta Kinte, I have no baby to hold up to the sky. What I do have is a bit of raw turmeric – which I got from Morrisons. I have to say I’m impressed with the local shop as it stocks a lot of “Ethnic” veg. I just wish they had little placards explaining what they were and how to cook them. While I was shopping there, a few people stopped me to ask what various things were – I love the opportunity to show off so didn’t mind, but even I was limited in my knowledge of what to do with a Cassava (apart from fry it like chips which is sooooo delicious doused with red chili powder, salt and lemon and eaten with beer on a hot summers day).

I’m digressing. Gujaratis love pickles. And they love pickled roots like one called garmar (sorry don’t know the English name but it’s like a really mild ginger), ginger, turmeric, radish, and pickled veg like carrots and chilis and fresh peppercorns. These are eaten with hot ghee smeared rotlis, rice, ghatias or as an accompaniment to a main meal…basically anytime.

I thought I’d have a go so I picked up a little bit of turmeric and brought it home. I pickled it using lime but think in future I’ll use lemon as I prefer the sharper taste.  You can also add ginger (prepare in the same way as turmeric below) and chilis if you like a kick. The amount below is probably enough for one person for a few days. BTW it tastes better if you leave it for a few days to get properly soused! You will need a sterilised glass jar which you can get by putting a jar in the oven at 100 degrees for an hour or put it into some sterilising fluid.

A BIG NOTE TO NOTE: turmeric is used to colour a bride’s skin in the days before her wedding. The colour represents purity and makes the girl go a golden colour apparently. It’s also used in powder form dissolved in water to clean gold. The stuff stains. If you are going to handle it, use gloves and DON’T wear your favourite white shirt. Don’t believe me? Look at my hands….

Another note: boring this one but the interweb seems divided on whether you should eat turmeric if you have gallstones. From what I can see, turmeric is useful for preventing the stones but if you already have them, then avoid this spice.  From what I have read, there are some health benefits to this spice but seriously, the only reason I eat anything is the taste. My ever-expanding waistline is testament to that though it might just be the encroachment of middle age (now imagine me running off sobbing hysterically into my hanky).

Ingredients:

  • 25g turmeric (once peeled weight is 20g)
  • 1 lime or half a lemon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preparation:

  

  • Wash then thinly peel the skin off the turmeric. Use a vegetable peeler and take off as little as possible. The flesh of the root is bright orange. When I was doing this I had to keep washing the peeler as the stuff was sticky.
  • Wash and pat dry
  • Either chop into small disks or into matchsticks
  • Put in a bowl with the lemon or lime juice and salt
  • Leave for about half an hour out in the open
  • Put the turmeric and juices into the sterilised jar and store in the fridge. Should be good for a few weeks.