3 pomegranate dishes to try in Dubai
Is there a more visually arresting fruit than a pomegranate? Open its globe-shaped casing and out spill glistening red arils, like rubies in a treasure chest. “This elegant fruit is not only beautiful to eat, it’s also beautiful to sketch or draw,” says Australian chef and author Greg Malouf.
The muse of fruits holds great symbolic weight. Around 480 BC, it stood for strength as the Persian army of Xerxes carried spears with pomegranates instead of spikes as tips during their assault on Greece. They also symbolise the indissolubility of marriage: In the Greek mythology, when Hades kidnapped Persephone, he used a pomegranate to trick her into becoming his wife.
Native to Iran and North India, the pomegranate is a rich part of Middle Eastern cuisine and has seen its popularity extend globally – not least for its ability to add an artistic touch to a dish. “I often use it for celebrations due to its bright hues,” says Pravish Shetty, head chef at Naya, Jumeirah Beach Hotel.
One question remains: how best to open it. One way is to slice it in half horizontally and hold one half in your palm over a bowl, gently tapping the outside with a spoon. “The seeds should fall out into the bowl. Just pick out any white membranes from between the seeds,” Pravish says. If that sounds brutal – “It’s such a beautiful fruit, why start bashing it?” Greg laughs – cut it like an orange: Chop the top off, run the knife down the sides and loosen the seeds so they fall out. Just don’t wear white; this fruit was once used to make red dye.
The jewel-like arils can be scattered over yoghurt, salads, cheese platters or fruit salads to add colour and a sweet-sour crunch. For a refreshing summer sorbet “blend the arils, strain them, add some sugar and some freshly chopped mint. Freeze for six to eight hours; blend again, then freeze to serve,” suggests Pravish.
Pomegranate juice is also highly prized. “I use it in dressings and desserts, as it makes a beautiful sorbet and panna cotta, “says Greg. “But it also adds texture to dairy dishes. It’s lovely with burrata or mozzarella.”
- Pomegranates contain more antioxidants than green tea and can guard against heart disease. The name pomegranate translates to “seeded apple”, which comes from the Middle French phrase “pomme garnete”.
- Ancient Egyptians regarded pomegranates as symbols of rebirth, so they were often used in burials. King Tut is believed to have taken a pomegranate vase with him to his final chamber.
- In Ancient Rome, married women wore headdresses made of pomegranate twigs to signify their marital status.
- Shakespeare made mention of pomegranates in “Romeo And Juliet” and “All’s Well That Ends Well”
Three dishes to try
Dahi puri chaat
This starter of wheat puffs filled with sweet and spiced yoghurt with pomegranate seeds has a unique flavour and texture.
Where: Naya, Jumeirah beach Hotel, Al Sufouh
Contact: +9714 432 3232
Fan of tapioca pudding? Have it in a pistachio meringue casing with pomegranate arils.
Where: Junoon, Shangri La
Contact: +9714 405 2717
Loch Fyne oysters
For an unusual taste, try this: Oysters on ice with tomato, citrus and pomegranate.
Where: Qbara, Wafi
Contact: +9714 709 2500