Ever heard of this joke?
Wife: I bought a spoon today & they gave me a 4 place dinner set for free!!
Husband: Really?? that's great.. & how much did the spoon cost?
Wife: $ 249.99...
Lets face it, all of us have sneaky stories like these that we will never share, (or .. we may brag about it on FB assuming that the ones closest to us will not notice). Well on a foodie note, yesterdays healthy light salad lunch was kind of built up on those lines.
I remember an episode of last seasons 'The next food network star' which catapulted Aarti Sequeira to Food network stardom and brought in a much needed Indian influence to the channel, one of the episodes featured a dish which called for pomegranate molasses. Now Indian cuisine puts the hallowed pomegranate to full use in the form of anardaana, the dried version, and its powdered form, but one seldom sees it being used as a thick syrup in Indian cuisine.
OK.. the word molasses conjures up the image of something produced only on an industrial scale, of course it is a byproduct of sugar refining and how often do we refine sugar cane juice at home??,
As one moves westward away from the Indian subcontinent, this delicious syrup establishes itself as a staple in Persian cooking. Turns out pomegranate molasses is not really a molasses at all, rather simply pomegranate juice boiled down to a concentrate. It perfectly fits the definition of sweet n' sour to a T and best of all, its a cinch to make! (albeit a tad messy!)
To make Pomegranate molasses, you need:
1 L all natural pomegranate juice.
Pour the pomegrante juice into a wide skillet (I used an enamel coated one)
Boil down till thick enough a wooden spoon drawn through the bottom will leave the bottom of the pan exposed for a couple of seconds before the molasses covers it up.
what you'll be left with is this lovely burgundy syrup that seems to be tailor made for many Indian dishes!1 L of juice yields about 1/2 a cup of molasses. (it also varies depending upon how thick you want it to be)
The first thought that came to mind when I first licked off the spoon was that a dash of salt & chilli powder & it would make a fabulous substitute for tamarind date chutney, and this eventually led me to making a lovely dressing for a summer grilled salad. Here's the recipe!
Citrus & pomegranate molasses dressing:1 1/2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 orange
1/2 teaspoon fresh orange zest
Chaat masala to taste
Combine the molasses, fresh orange juice, the olive oil, orange zest & chaat masala & whisk together till blended well. Taste and adjust for the chaat masala. set aside in refrigerator till required.
For the Salad you need:
2 1/4 inch slices fresh pineapple
2 medium red potatoes diced
2 medium peruvian purple potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt to taste
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 cob fresh corn
1 persian cucumber, diced OR 1/2 english hothouse cucumber (diced)
arils from 1/2 a fresh pomegranate
3 mini bell peppers finely diced (1 each of yellow, red & orange)
1 sprig mint (leaves only)
3-4 iceberg lettuce leaves
Peel & dice the potatoes. into 1/2 inch cubes. drizzle olive oil & add the sea salt & black pepper. Marinade for ~ 15 minutes. Roast till golden brown in a 400 F oven (~ 1/2 hr) or in a grill basket over a grill.
In a grill pan over high heat, grill the pineapple slices till the char marks are well defined (~ 2 minutes on each side). remove, cut each slice into 8 wedges & set aside to cool
remove the husks from the corn & grill over the stove top till the surface just begins to char. Using a kitchen knife, shave the kernels from the cob and add to a large bowl.
Stack the mint leaves over each other and finely shred into a chiffonade.
Add the cucumbers, peppers and the pomegranate arils to the corn & toss to combine. Add the pineapple & the potatoes to the mix. Drizzle with the dressing as per taste & Garnish with the fresh mint leaves. Serve on the lettuce leaves.