As I write, I am sitting in my very European room in a boutique hotel in the Old city of Istanbul. All around me for the last couple of weeks has been an abundance of a fruit that I thought I would rarely see when I left India. Pomegranate!
Anar in Hindi and Nar in Turkish... Very similar owing to some overlap of Arabic/Urdu in both languages. Prior to the middle East, I was content to eating this fruit by hand, peeling back the skin and patiently peeling off the arils and quickly popping them into my mouth. Here though you get its juice, crushed in front of you, at pretty much every corner and middle of each block. Such a divine luxury indeed!
There is some history with the Ottoman empire's fascination with the fruit. Much to do with its appearance itself from the arils that look very like high quality rubies to the symbolism of lushness of life as this is one fruit that yields several seeds. In short, the fruit, to them represented abundance, richness, family and so forth. Many dishes are laced in different ways with this fruit, either in its fresh form or as syrup.
Today, its popularity, at least of the fresh fruit has become global. The pomegranate has taken the fancy of the North American eater as well. Ever since the POM Wonderful brand, introduced this fruit into mass market, it has taken every health conscious eater by storm. Now, cold weather has become as synonymous with this bejeweled fruit as with the orange.
In the five or so years, when the fruit has been commonly available in the market, the flavor has been consistently improving and the organic ones are nearly as delicious and sweet as I remember them from my childhood. Before I left on this trip, I bought a boat load of them and munched on them all day long. They simply made everything taste great and added so much oomph to a dish especially as I became equally infatuated with other flavors from this region like tahini.
Today's recipe does not have much to do with the fruit itself per se. Yet, I think it is superbly enhanced by the addition of it whilst serving. The Apple and Pumpkin Granola is a fine breakfast on its own. Have it with your favorite milk and any fresh fruits you like. If I may, I would recommend having it with strained yogurt laced with tahini and topped generously with fresh pomegranate. A very healthful and satiating combination it will prove to be...!
APPLE AND PUMPKIN GRANOLA
2 cups oats
1 medium tart apple, diced small
3 T pumpkin puree, unsweetened
2 T raw honey
1 T brown sugar
1-1/2 T olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup mixed nuts and seeds
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix together the oil, honey and pumpkin puree.
Rub the mixture into the oats, massaging them to coat throughly.
Fold in the apples and sprinkle the sugar and salt over.
Spread the oats in an even layer on a baking tray.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once midway until browned and the apple pieces have lost most of their moisture.
Cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container.