10 things to do with Pomegranate Molasses

 In Persian food

We all know what it’s like to buy an unfamiliar ingredient for one recipe and then be stuck with ideas for how to use it again. The said ingredient usually finds itself relegated to the back of your kitchen cupboard, gathering dust until it quietly passes its sell by date and you can justifiably throw it out without feeling guilty. Or is that just me?

Well, fear not, if you invest in a bottle of pomegranate molasses you’ll never face such woes. This sticky, sweet and sour sauce is one of the hallmarks of Persian cuisine and is as versatile as it is delicious.

Pomegranate molasses are made by reducing fresh pomegranate juice down until it forms a dark, thick, syrup. As the sweetness of each batch of pomegranates will differ, it’s rare to find two bottles that are the exactly same and brands vary massively so it’s worth shopping around to find the one that tickles your particular taste buds. I like a good hint of sharpness to mine so always opt for the Iranian brands (natch), but as a rule of thumb, I find  Turkish brands add sugar to the molasses which makes them quite sweet and Arabic brands tend to be lighter in consistency so are better for salad dressings. Once you’ve worked out which type of pomegranate molasses you like best here are some ideas for what to do with them.

1. Salad dressings

Use pomegranate molasses as you would use balsamic vinegar, add a spoonful whenever you want to add a sweet and slightly acidic flavour to a salad. Make a simple dressing with some olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper and you are set to go. Pomegranate molasses go particularly well with salads that have lots of fresh herbs in them like mint, parsley or coriander and also with grain-based salads using brown rice, couscous, quinoa.

2. Marinades

Lamb, chicken and duck all go really well with pomegranate molasses and in the North of Iran they often use it to tenderise meats. Make a marinade with some olive oil, pomegranate molasses, yoghurt, garlic, oregano and salt and pepper and marinade your chosen meat for a few hours before sticking it under the grill or on a BBQ.

3. Dips

Pomegranate molasses are a tasty addition to Middle Eastern dips such as like Baba Ganoush and Muhummara. You can also use them to pimp up store bought Hummus by topping it with a some toasted pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and pomegranate molasses. I promise you it makes your simple chickpea dip taste right fancy.

4. Soups and stews

Pomegranate molasses add depth and richness to all kinds of soups or stews and I’ve been known to chuck some in a spag bol or a chilli con carne. But my favourite way to use them in a stew is to make Fesenjoon, an ancient Persian slow cooked hotpot made with ground walnuts and pomegranate molasses.

5. Roasts

Roasted vegetables like butternut squash, aubergines, red onions, peppers and courgettes love a drizzle of pomegranate molasses. Simply mix the veggies with some olive oil, crushed garlic, pomegranate molasses and thyme and season well before whacking them in the oven till cooked. This combination of ingredients also works as a baste for a roast chicken if you want to persian-ise your sunday roast.

6. Mash

Use pomegranate molasses with some olive oil and cinnamon to flavour a root vegetable mash using pumpkins, squash, sweet potatoes and carrots and enjoy a generous serving of healthy comfort food.

7. Stir fries

So many East-Asian dishes combine sweet and sour flavours and pomegranate molasses are the perfect addition to your wok. Next time you are stir-frying up some vegetables, noodles or meat just add a little dollop of molasses along with the fish sauce/soy sauce and sesame oil.

8. Ice-cream or sorbets

Drizzle some pomegranate molasses over a vanilla ice cream or fruit sorbet for pseudo-sophisticated middle eastern dessert.

9. Cocktails

Instead of using grenadine (a sweet pomegranate cordial) use pomegranate molasses in cocktails for a slightly sharper finish. I like mixing a spoonful of pomegranate molasses with some Cava or Prosecco for some fruity fizz, a perfect festive season tipple.

10. Straight off the spoon

Yep, that’s right. I do it. What can I say, it’s more addictive than you’d think.

Yasmin Khan
Writer // Cook // Intrepid Explorer
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