Yes, pomegranates are back in season from September to November. This light and colorful dark pink fruit can be used in multiple ways from juicy fresh pods and dry seeds to freeze-dried powder or juice form.
In India, we do not let any part of this yummy deliciousness go to waste, as there are nutrients and enzymes in every part of the fruit. Pomegranates boast high levels of phytonutrients including vitamin C, antioxidants, potassium and folate, a natural form of folic acid or B9 which is essential for DNA synthesis and repair.
I will be sharing one of my favorite family recipes, but first, of course, I have to give you a briefing of its history.
The title pomegranate comes from Medieval Latin “pomum” which usually means “apple” and “granatum” which indicates “seeded.” Pomegranate is native to a region from Iran to northern India and has been cultivated throughout the Middle East, South Asia and Mediterranean regions for several millennia. This fruitful tree was introduced to California by the Spanish settlers in 1769. Today, with the mild winters in this state, California is the main area for commercial production in the U.S.
This fruit is said to have approximately 613 seeds symbolizing fruitfulness, which is why Armenians use the fruit to represent fertility, abundance and marriage or union. The fruit plays an integral role in wedding customs within Armenian culture. For example, an Armenian bride was given a pomegranate fruit, which she threw against a wall, breaking it into pieces. This same custom was also practiced within a number of the Mediterranean and Asian regions.
The fruit is considered the most well-known, nutritionally abundant fruit with its distinctive taste, flavor and health-endorsing qualities which makes it a “superfood.” Pomegranate juice is the foremost cancer battling antioxidant. Keep in mind you can find pomegranates in most forms; however, this does not mean that it is always good for nutritious consumption as most pre-made items have a lot of sugars in them. My suggestion is to enjoy this raw fruit during season to reap all the nutritional value.
In my own upbringing, this time of the year (autumn) would be the time to clear the system of summer toxins, and prepare oneself for the cooler climate ahead. My mum would do 1 to 7 days of fasting. To open the fast, she would make a lemon sherbet drink to help balance the pH levels within the body that have been released during the fast, then eat a sprouted moong bean salad. The live enzymes within the pomegranates and sprouted moong beans were a big hit – even with us hard-to-please kids – so I am thrilled to share my family recipe with you.
Sprouted Moong Bean and Pomegranate Salad
2 cup sprouted moong beans
1-cup pomegranate seeds removed and ready to use
4tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
Juice of 1 Lemon and zest of ½ lemon
2 medium garlic cloves, crushed
½ tsp crushed red chili pepper
Sea salt to taste
8 scallions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1-cup flat leaf parsley or cilantro
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp turmeric powder
Add the turmeric, black pepper, crushed red chili pepper, sea salt, lemon juice, and oil of choice to a small bottle. Mix well and set aside.
In a medium sized bowl add all of the other ingredients to the bowl.
At this point you can also add to the recipe (if desired) a little finely diced red onion, cherry tomatoes and spinach (personally I can’t get enough of my greens). For me, I will change out ingredients if I do not have any pomegranates, as it is only seasonal.
Stir in the dressing and it is ready to serve and enjoy!