Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019 | Last Update : 10:12 PM IST

The ruby red wonder fruit

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Jul 21, 2019, 7:09 am IST
Updated : Jul 21, 2019, 7:09 am IST

Pomegranates also contain high levels of flavonoids, known to be effective in counteracting various cancer-causing free radicals.

Pomegranate curd salad.
 Pomegranate curd salad.

One of the healthiest fruits on earth, pomegranate not only makes a dish taste wonderful but also elevates itsnutritional quotient to another level

Wondering what pomegranates are good for? One of the healthiest fruit on earth, the health benefits of pomegranates are innumerable and what makes them special is that it is healthy and delicious. The name pomegranate is derived from Latin and means “seeded apple”. In some of the stories related to the origin and importance of the fruit in the history, it is believed that  many early civilisations thought they were bleeding and linked it with the transformation of life during birth and death. Since it is a fruit that spills over in good luck, in some parts of the world it was customary to adorn the holiday table with pomegranates. They are set out in honour of the fertile land and its bounty.

Pomegranates have antioxidant, anti-viral, and anti-tumor properties and are said to be a good source of vitamins, especially vitamin A, C, and E, as well as folic acid. Pomegranates are packed with two unique plant compounds that are responsible for most of their health benefits — Punicalagins, extremely potent antioxidants and Punicic acid, the main fatty acid in the arils. Punicic acid is a type of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) with immense biological effects. Containing three times as many antioxidants as both wine or green tea, the fruit helps to keep bad cholesterol from accumulating and thus, keep the arteries clear of any clots. A regular intake of pomegranate juice can maintain a good flow of blood in the body. Because of this property, it subsequently decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Pomegranates also contain high levels of flavonoids, known to be effective in counteracting various cancer-causing free radicals.

The American Cancer Society, in one of its researches has mentioned that regular consumption of pomegranates can reduce the PSA levels in the body and aid in the fight against existing cancer cells as well. According to a study in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, the antioxidant content of pomegranates and pomegranate juice may improve endurance and aerobic capacity in athletes therefore improving their performance.

The fruit is also an effective remedy to cure digestive related ailments. Pomegranate peel, bark, and leaves are used to treat stomach disorders or diarrhea caused by any kind of digestive problems. Drinking tea made from the leaves of these fruits also helps in curing digestive problems. The seeds of pomegranate are delicious all on their own, sprinkled into drinks, added to salads, or used to make jellies and other treats. In addition to all these health benefits, pomegranates also help ward off infections and help control aging problems like wrinkles as well, thus providing people with youthful and glowing skin.

Pomegranate curd salad
Ingredients
Curd/Yogurt           1 cup
Pomegranate seeds  1 cup
Sugar                          1tsp
Salt                             1/2 tsp
Mint leaves                3-4
Pepper (Optional)    1/2 tsp

Method
Mix sugar, salt and curd in a bowl.
Add the pomegranate seeds and mix them well.
Add pepper if you want.
Taste the salad and if it is  too sour then again add a little salt and sugar
Refrigerate and serve it cool.
Garnish the salad with mint leaves and a few fresh pomegranate arils.

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Spiced Pomegranate Cocktail
It’s one of the easiest and visually appealing cocktails one can make. This spicy pomegranate cocktail will definitely grab eyeballs at a party for its look and taste. This is indeed a healthy option for alcohol lovers. The spice syrup can be prepared and stored in the refrigerator for couple of weeks as well. If you want to avoid alcohol, this syrup will also make a good mocktail.

Ingredients
For the spiced     
pomegranate syrup
Pomegranate juice               3 cups
Water                                      1 Cup
Cinnamon stick                     1
Cloves                                     6-8
Star anise                               1
Pinch of nutmeg powder
Cardamom (Optional)           2
Orange peel (Half Orange)
Freshly squeezed orange juice      1/4 cup  
Sugar/honey                           2 tbsp
Mint leaves for garnishing

For THE COCKTAIL    
Vodka                                60ml
Ice Cubes

Method
For the spiced pomegranate syrup
Combine all the ingredients and heat it in a pan at low flame.
Do not boil the mixture.
Simmer for 10 minutes, remove from the heat and strain, discarding the spices and orange peel.
Allow it to cool completely.

For THE COCKTAIL
Fill a glass with ice, add vodka and Spiced pomegranate syrup.
Give the drink a quick stir and garnish with pomegranate seeds and a sprig of fresh mint. 

Pomegranate Chocolate Bark
If you are health conscious and want to choose sweet treats with healthy ingredients to satisfy your sweet tooth and keep the body in balance then this chocolate bark is an apt alternative.

Ingredients
Dark chocolate           300gms
Pomegranate seeds     1 cup
Dry roasted almonds  1/2 cup

Method    
Melt the dark chocolate  in the microwave or a double boiler.
Mix half of the pomegranate seeds and almonds into the chocolate.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Pour the mixture into the tray.
Top with the remaining seeds and nuts and press down gently.
Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until set.
Cut the barks neatly with a knife or else you can just break it.
Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Pomegranate pudding
A dessert with minimal effort but bold flavour, this pudding will be a hit among the kids. One of the main attractions of this dessert is that if the pomegranate arils are sweet enough then you can avoid using sugar. If you are in a hurry, packaged pomegranate juice can also be used. However, it would be good if you ensure it is oraganic without added preservatives or sweetener. If you are a vegan you can easily avoid butter as well and the result is a super yummy pudding that’s dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free, with no sugar added. Do not forget to top the pudding with some fresh pomegranate arils. This will provide the correct amount of crunch while you are savouring the pudding. This dessert can also be served slightly warm on cooler days.

Ingredients
Fresh pomegranate arils    1cup
Corn flour                     2 tbs
Sugar                             2 tbs
Butter                            1 tbs

Method    
Grind the pomegranate seeds and strain the juice.
Add two tablespoonful  of corn flour and sugar to the pomegranate juice.
Heat a nonstick pan and add some butter.
When the butter melts, pour the mix and stir well until it attains a pudding consistency.
Pour the pudding into a glass container and allow it to set in the refrigerator for at least for two hours.
You can serve it when set. I used the same container to set the pudding in which I wanted to serve it. You can use any container to refrigerate the pudding and serve it in bowls.

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(The recipes are by Sony Dinesh, who is a passionate cook and food photographer who loves capturing and recreating the traditional as well as healthy dishes which are easy to cook)

Tags: pomegranates, fruit