I love eating pomegranates. There is something feral and viscious about tearing out the tiny red seeds, your lips and hands stained with its juices as they pop and crunch in sweet and sour explosions. Although cooking with pomegranates usually involves some form of condensed pomegranate juice or syrup, or adding them as a topping to a salad, I wanted that same delicious texture and taste added to a more substantial dish.
In middle east cooking pomegranates are a common sight in a variety of dishes, both hot and cold. When looking for a recipe to test I came across a simple pilaf with apricots, pistachios and pomegranates. Bringing it back together with a dish from its origin seemed like a good place to start for me.
The original recipe called only for basmati, and though I’m a huge fan of this aromatic rice, I thought it could use some other textures and flavors. So I added a variety of grains, all ones that would cook in the same amount of time and not have to be soaked or cooked separately.
Adding grains like amaranth, quinoa, and millet not only improved the texture and flavor it also added to the overall nutritional profile of the dish, bringing more essential amino acids, B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus and iron.
I found the dried apricots of the original recipe to be too sweet for me, and wanted something more neutral. Reconstituted, plump golden raisins were perfect, though I imagine figs would also be good.
Tip: When removing the seeds (called arils) from the pomegranate, it’s easiest to do this over a bowl of water. The arils will sink to the bottom while the bitter white pith will float on top.
- 2 Tbsp ghee or coconut oil
- 1 small red onion
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1/4 cup millet
- 1/4 cup amaranth
- 1/4 cup quinoa
- 3 1/2 cups light chicken stock or water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (arils)
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 dry white wine
- 1/2 cup pistachios
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- 2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
- 2 Tbsp mint, chopped
- In a medium sauce pan, over medium heat, melt ghee or oil. When shimmering, sauté onion until soft, about 3-4 minutes. While onions are softening heat chicken stock or water over high heat until boiling then reduce to simmer. When onions are soft, add grains and salt and pour in hot water, immediately reduce heat. Cover and simmer until all water is absorbed and grains are fluffy, about 20-30 minutes. Fluff with a fork and remove from heat. Let rest for five minutes.
- In a small microwaveable dish add raisins and wine, bring to heat and let rest until plump, about five minutes.
- In a large bowl toss grains with pomegranate seeds, raisins, pistachios, lime juice, cilantro and mint. Season with salt before serving.