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Pretty in Pink for October - Pomegranate Yogurt Ice Cream

October is breast cancer awareness month. Yesterday, as I walked along the streets of the Village in NYC, I saw supporters of Avon Breast Cancer Walk doing their bit to raise awareness about breast cancer and funds for research. Avon walk was my first ever charity walk in the US, four years back. This year, I am going Pink for the month to show my support.

It is also in support of the Pink for October campaign run by Matthew Oliphant. The campaign is about blog and website owners showing their support for breast cancer awareness by turning their sites pink for the month of October.

And ofcourse, me being a foodie, I had to make something pink for the cause. Following on the pomegranate theme from last month, I decided to make pomegranate ice cream with yogurt rather than a custard. As it turns out, I do think it is a fitting pink dish for the month. And, it is my entry for Virtual Girl's Night In event being hosted by Dragon Musings.

Pomagranates are one of the richest natural sources of antioxidants that slow down aging process and consequently function as inhibitors of cancerous growth. Research shows that pomegranates contain a compound that eats breast cancer cells. The most powerful form of it is the oil from seed, but you get the effects from eating the fruit or drinking the juice, too.

Anyway, putting aside the heavy duty stuff, they make you feel younger and btw, taste fantastic. My in-laws, in their 60s, have taken to eating pomegranates everyday now because of it anti-aging qualities. I find that highly cute... :)

Soo.. back to the ice cream. I chose to do yogurt instead of custard to keep with the low-fat, healthy theme. I used reduced and thickened pomegranate juice to add flavor in the ice cream and as a sauce on top to accentuate the fruit flavor even more. You could also fold in some fruit for extra texture. I was happy with sprinkling a bit on top and just snacking on the rest... :)

If you are interested in participating in the Pink for October campaign, please read about it here. You can read about participating in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and check out the schedule for your city here.

Pomegranate Yogurt Ice Cream

1 cup strained yogurt
1 cup light cream
2 cups pomegranate juice
1/2 tsp corn starch
1/4 cup sugar

You can make the strained yogurt at home by straining two cups of plain yogurt through thick paper towels (placed over a seive) overnight or atleast 4 hours.

Bring the pomegrante juice to a boil. Lower to medium-low and reduce to half the volume. In a small cup mix 2 tsps of the hot pomegranate juice with the corn starch. When fully mixed pour starch mixture back onto the rest of the reduced juice. Keep stirring and cook for a 5 more minutes. Strain mixture to remove any lumps and let the sauce cool to room temperature.

Reserve half of the pomegranate sauce for serving. In a medium bowl, whip the yogurt and sugar to a smooth cream. Add the light cream and fruit sauce and beat for a couple of minutes to make a smooth mixture. Regrigerate and then pour into an ice cream maker and follow product instructions.

If you don't have an ice cream maker, place the cooled mixture in the freezer in a wide bowl. Every 35-45 minutes, whenever the mixture starts freezing, give it a good whip to break the ice crystals and make it creamy. Repeat 4-5 times. Then let is freeze and set for atleast 4 hours.

To serve, pour sauce over ice cream scoops and garnish with pomegranates..

POM-tastic Koresht - e -Fesenjan!

Recently, I was sent a case of POM Wonderful juice by the company to taste and test recipes. As soon as I was told I was getting the product, I started dreaming up things to make with it. And, the first thing that popped into my head was Fesenjan, the rich Iranian special occasion dish made with pomegranate molasses and walnuts.

There used to be a lovely Iranian restaurant in Bangalore, named Sufi (now closed) that served Fesenjan on special orders. You had to call in a day ahead and let them know if you wanted to order it. No, no, it does not take that long to make but the flavors in the dish develop and mature the longer it sits and overnight is the minimum recommended. All these elaborate arrangements coupled with the fact that it is a dish reserved for occasions, in Iran, just drew the mystic aura around it and I wanted to recreate that at home. :)

Now, I love pomegranates. I remember my mother lovingly peeling the rind and cartilage off the fruit for her dearest daughter (that's Me..). Interestingly, this is one of those things that is also very good for you (what a lucky coincidence!). It is full of antioxidants and is beneficial to cardio-vascular health. You can read more about the health benefits of POM Wonderful juice here.

So, back to the Fesenjan. It really is a very simple dish getting it's flavors primarily from the ground walnuts and pomegranate reduction. The toasted walnuts are slightly bitter and the pomegranate is sweet and tangy at the same time. As the pomegranate juice reduces, the sweetness gets enhanced. The resulting gravy is rich, deep and yet subtle in flavor. I made it with chicken as it is traditionally made. You can also use lamb or beef.

Yes, I get the irony. Fesenjan is not a heart friendly dish but I do think it showcases the pomegranate very well indeed! :)

For more recipes using POM, please check out their website.

Koresht - e - Fesenjan

Fesenjan tastes better the longer it sits, atleast overnight. So, try to be patient and plan ahead.
It is important to cook the sauce until the oil renders from the nuts.

1-1/2 lbs chicken bone-in thigh and leg meat
1 large onion, sliced thin
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 lb walnuts, toasted and ground
3-1/2 cups POM wonderful pomegranate juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1-2 T sugar (depending on taste and sweetness of juice)
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
2 T lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
3 T olive oil

Brown chicken pieces in a heavy bottomed pan in 2 tablespoons of oil. Remove and reserve. Add some more oil and saute onions until soft. Add the garlic and saute for a few more minutes. Season with salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg and fry for a minute.

Mix in the walnut paste into the onion mixture. Add the browned chicken pieces and toss to coat with the walnut and onion mixture. Stir in the pomegranate juice. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for atleast an hour until the sauce is thickened, the walnuts release their oil and the sauce has reduced to about half the original volume.

Stir in lemon juice and sugar according to taste. Adjust seasoning if needed. Continue cooking for a 20 more minutes. A minute or two before taking off the heat, mix in the ground cardamom.

Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight. Next day, if the sauce is too thick, stir in 1/2 cup of warm water and bring to boil. Serve over hot white rice, garnished with walnuts. I would have sprinkled some fresh pomegranate as well, but I did not have any on hand.

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