In Praise of the Pomegranate

Pom  Pom Salad

Snooping on someone’s desk can get you into big trouble. But I know of one case where it lead to great things.

There was no way you could miss it. The bright photo on the cover of this book was like a neon sign that screamed “calling all foodies.”

Tell me that you wouldn’t have spotted this book under a pile of papers in the office and had a quick little look? Well? Am I wrong?

So, if you did lunge across your colleagues desk to thumb through Modern Flavors of Arabia, you too would have been rewarded with page after page of beautifully photographed dishes. And you likely would have run right out to the bookstore to buy it, just like I did.

I was immediately sold by the drool-inducing photos and the fact that many of my favourite local celebrity chefs (Anna and Michael Olson, Susur Lee and Lynn Crawford) have provided testimonials for the book. Of course I had to buy it.

You’d also note that pomegrante molasses and pomegrante seeds are featured prominently in the book, along with other ingredients such as cinnamon, pistachios, sumac, za’atar, orange blossom water and rosewater.

Thanks to my blogging friend Sawsan over at Chef in Disguise, I am becoming more familiar with many of these ingredients and the wonderful role that they play in Middle Eastern and Arabic cuisine.

Two recipes really jumped out at me right away, so I started with them: Arugula Salad with Roasted Eggplant and Sweet Pomegranate Dressing and Spicy Chicken Wings . . . although I adjusted the wing recipe and renamed it Sweet and Sticky Pomegranate Chicken Wings. I was extremely pleased with the results of both recipes and look forward to making my way through the rest of this book.

If you’re not up for buying this book, I hope I can convince you to at least buy a bottle of pomegrante molasses. Widely available at specialty and Middle Eastern stores, it can also be used to make refreshing drinks, dips and glazes for meat. If you do take the plunge, this terrific article from Food52 will provide you with a range of ways to use up your bottle.

If you have trouble finding pomegranate molasses, you can always make your own with this easy recipe from Simply Recipes.

So, a big thank you goes out to my colleague Maria, who casually left this book on her desk, under a few papers, when I was visiting her in Ottawa. It was kind of like laying out a piece of cheese and then waiting for the mouse to arrive . . .

Sticky Wings

Arugula Salad with Roasted Eggplant and Sweet Pomegranate Dressing

Recipe from Modern Flavors of Arabia

  • 2 medium egglplants
  • 2 – 3 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 2 tsp whole fennel seeds
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large handfuls arugula, washed
  • 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 fresh pomegranate seeds

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.

Peel and cut the eggplants into thick rounds of about 1 inch thick, brush both sides with oil, sprinkle with sea salt and place on a shallow baking sheet. Place in the oven to roast until golden and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove, cool completely and slice each round in half. Set aside.

Using a mortar and pestle, crush the fennel seeds and garlic to make a paste. Add the balsamic vinegar, honey, lemon juice, dijon mustard, pomegranate molasses and olive oil. Whisk together to emulsify the dressing. Set aside.

Place the arugula on a shallow serving platter. Sprinkle the onion, tomatoes, salt and pepper on top. Toss to combine. Scatter the egglpant slices on the salad.

Drizzle some dressing all over. Garnish with pine nuts and pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately.

NOTE: I found that the recipe made about twice the amount of dressing that I needed. Next time I’ll cut the dressing recipe in half.

Sweet and Sticky Pomegranate Chicken Wings

Recipe adapted from Modern Flavors of Arabia‘s Spicy Chicken Wings

  • 2 lbs chicken wings
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • juice of one lemon
  • 3 tbsp pomegrante molasses
  • salt and pepper

Make a marinade by mixing all of the ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Add chicken wings and toss well. Cover and leave in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat oven to 350˚ F.

Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place wings spread apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Increase temperature to 375 ˚ F and cook for an additional 20 to 30 minutes, until the wings are well cooked and the glaze is sticky and carmelized.

NOTE: The original recipe called for 1 tsp of cayenne pepper and 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro (chopped). It is also served with a hot tomato salsa. I modified the recipe to make it work for my two young girls. It also recommended cooking the wings for 35 minutes at 350˚, but I found they needed quite a bit more time to cook well and carmelize.


85 Comments on “In Praise of the Pomegranate”

  1. chef mimi says:

    I want this book!

  2. Kristy says:

    I am learning through our cooking adventures that I really enjoy Middle Eastern cuisine. I would LOVE thus book. This chicken sounds phenomenal! I have a new ingredient to hunt for now. 🙂

    • Your cooking adventures are such a great way to get to know other cuisines, since you never make just one recipe from the region of focus. If you can’t find the pomegranate molasses, you might find pomegranate concentrate. It is similar, just not mad with sugar. I had a sales lady try to tell me they were the same thing today…

  3. I would have totally picked up the book and thumbed through it, the title and the picture are irresistable!
    Thank you kindly for the shout out Barb, I deeply appreciate it.
    I love pomegranate molasses and agree with you, there is so much you can do with it and the flavors it adds are so unique and delicious. I actually know the author as she have published arabic cook books and had her own show on fatafeet “the arabic counter part for food network” but I will definetly look up this book too

    • Sawsan, I have to tell you that I did hesitate a little at buying the book because I thought, hey, I already have a great source of recipes from the Middle East (your blog). But sometimes there is nothing like having a book that you can look through for inspiration. Now I’m surrounded by inspiration. I even picked up some Rosewater and Orange Blossom water at lunch today.

      That is interesting that you are familiar with the author. I must read her bio more carefully as I know that she lives in Ottawa.

      There seems to be a lot of interest in Middle Eastern cuisine these days, and you are certainly a tremendous resource for those of us interested in learning more. I’m looking forward to trying more of your recipes this year Sawsan!

  4. laurasmess says:

    Aw yuuuum! I love Middle Eastern food, especially Persian, Turkish and Arabic… the spice combinations and fragrant additions like rosewater, pomegranate molasses and orange blossom are to die for. I’ve never made chicken wings with pomegranate molasses, so far I’ve mostly been using it on vegetarian dishes. Will have to give this recipe a go. Thanks lovely!

    • I really recommend the wings. The flavour combination was terrific. My oldest daugther took one bite and said “that tastes like cinnamon”. She really liked them…although I had some plain ones at the ready just in case!

  5. I like the sound of pomegranate dressing and I LOVE arugula so I know I’ll love this dish. Lovely post Barb. xx

  6. mmmarzipan says:

    this looks pretty amazing! pomegranate dressing = must try! xx

  7. Many great loves here on the same plate! I love love love sticky chicken wings, we usually go the soy variety but I think I’ll have to change those flavours up with some pomenganate molasses too. Secondly I recently acquired a copy of Plenty by Ottolenghi and those beautiful bold Ingredients in your food remind me of this. No doubt a winner with your little ponytails too!

    • Yes, many great loves indeed. If you love sticky wings, then you’ll like this version. It is a nice change of pace in flavours from soy (although I love soy too). I’ll have to check out Plenty by Ottolenghi, as I haven’t heard of it before. The ponytails quite liked the wings, but I didn’t even try to give them the salad. I made homemade potato wedges and cut veggies for them to go with the wings. Hope things are well with you.

  8. The book looks so interesting! And the salad incredibly delicious! So glad you shared!

  9. Shari Kelley says:

    I was so happy to read this post. I have been looking for pomegranate molasses and haven’t been able to find it. Also, we have eggplants growing in our garden so I need some recipes as I really don’t know what to do with them. Thank you for solving both of those problems for me!:)

    • You might find pomegranate concentrate, which is very similar. From what I’ve read the only difference is that there’s a little sugar added to the molasses version. Of course, you can always make it! Lucky you to have eggplants growing in your garden. Hopefully the recipe turns out to be a good solution for you.

  10. Joyti says:

    The book sounds great. And I do like pomegranate, but they aren’t in season here.
    AND I’m getting really “into” Middle Eastern food too.

  11. gotasté says:

    It’s amazing what you can create with this fruit that is so rich in vitamin C. I love the chicken wings and the roasted eggplants. Dinner time!…..danny

  12. Saskia (1=2) says:

    These look magnificent Barb! Gorgeous photos. The salad is calling my name. Fab combination of ingredients. I have a huge bottle of pomegranate molasses in the fridge, which I use on lamb pizza. LOVE the idea of using it as a dressing for eggplant. Love Japanese miso eggplant and I imagine the flavour is similar. I also have two big fat pomegranates sitting here that I was going to juice for stewed apple. Very tempted to use them for this salad instead. The cookbook looks beautiful – excellent snoopery!

    • Now there’s something I’ve never heard of before — lamb pizza. I’m afraid that I am not able to cook with lamb because my husband won’t eat it. However, I am a huge fan …so that makes me sad. Can I come over and try a piece? I think the flavour of Japanese miso eggplants is the same, although I’ve only had it once.

      Glad my snoopery lead to such a great discovery! I must point out that I’m not one to snoop around on the desks of my colleagues! I think they know that I’m just joking. My colleague was there was I was looking through the book. 🙂

  13. Great recipe, sounds absolutely delicious. I love all of the spices and favors!

  14. Eva Taylor says:

    What a beautiful book and you’ve made a gorgeous plate; I too am drawn to the mysterious spices so I know I would love this dish! As luck would have it I have an eggplant! And I’m pretty sure I’ve got a baggy of pomegranate seeds in the freezer. Thanks for the book reco, it’s really lovely.

  15. erika says:

    Oooh I love me some roasted eggplant. Especially if it’s doused in this pomegranate molasses you speak of!! You made such a convincing case for it, I’m contemplating going to the market after work and buying some…

  16. I want that book! This recipe looks delicious… very different from my usual cooking. Thank you for sharing!

  17. I am in love with ALL of this! I have to have that book and I will have to try your version of the chicken wings too – it all looks SO amazingly good 🙂
    I am already thinking where can I get pomegranate molasses here – I hope I find it!
    Beautiful post – thank you!!

    • Thanks Anne! I’m wondering if you might find it at Granville Island. I always had good luck finding hard-to-find ingredients there — although I was mostly into Thai cooking when I lived in Vancouver. I’m also trying to think of the specialty shop on Granville Street north of Broadway that is sure to have it. I used to live around the corner from that shop…Let me know how you make out!

  18. Barb,
    – I guess we Middle Eastern foodie bloggers should get busy introducing more recipes which help you use the Middle Easter ingredients you are stocking in your pantry!!!
    – Your salad looks just as delectable as the one on the cover of the book! 😀 Fae.

  19. I love Middle Eastern food and pomegranate is used frequently and it is wonderful in both sweet and savory dishes. That salad looks so tasty as does the chicken.

  20. bentodays says:

    Lovely! Thanks for sharing!

  21. Norma Chang says:

    Never tried pomegranate molasses, must look for it in the store. Both dishes sounds wonderful. Oh yes, would definitely take a peek if I saw that book.

    • I think you’d like the book Norma. Sometimes I think it is easier to find pomegranate concentrate, which is a good substitute. The only difference is that sugar is added to the reduction when making the molasses.

  22. Going to have to get that cookbook based on that recipe!

  23. ChgoJohn says:

    Sounds like quite a cookbook, Barb. As good — and beautiful — as that salad surely is, those wings are speaking to me! Combining pomegranate, cayenne, cinnamon, honey, and garlic must make for a tasty wing. Take that, Buffalo!

    • Ha, ha…yes it was time to put Buffalo in the corner for a change. I’ve been eating a lot of salad lately, and while I thoroughly enjoyed this salad (and will definitely make it again), the wings with their unique flavour combination were a highlight.

  24. Looks like a cookbook I need to have! I love Pom molasses and one of my favourite dishes is similar to the eggplant salad you made…which sounds wonderful too. The chicken wings with all those wonderful spices, the look gorgeous. I came across a recipe a while back where instead of using BBQ sauce for a pulled chicken, they used Pom molasses. I thought that was a brilliant idea. Barb,my sister and nephews live in Toronto, to answer your comment you left on my kebab dish, I have a few recommendations for kebab places…let me get their names from my nephew and I will email them to you.


    • I am sure that pom molasses for pulled chicken would be really delicious. It is a lovely cookbook, although you have many lovely middle eastern recipes on your site as well.

      Nazneen, what a small world that your sister and nephews live in Toronto! I’d welcome any suggestions they might have for kebab places. How exciting! Isn’t this the best part of blogging? I just love getting to know other bloggers like yourself. It makes it all worthwhile!

  25. I love pomegranates! And I love the sound of these recipes. The flavor combinations remind me of Yotam Ottolenghi’s. He is an Israeli chef here in London and all his recipes are divine. I highly recommend his cookbook which also makes use of pomegranates, saffron yogurt sauces, and eggplant.

    • Thanks for introducing me to Ytam Ottolenghi — I will definitely check out his cookbooks. I haven’t cooked a lot with pomegranates in the past, but boy am I hooked after these two recipes. Thanks for dropping by!

  26. Sissi says:

    Barb, this salad looks terrific! Seeing the cover and reading your comments, I am not surprised you were tempted to buy this book! I am quite ignorant about this region’s cooking and must say that a visit in one of the North-African countries hasn’t been particularly pleasant from the culinary point of view… I do love however pomegranate and its molasses too. I remember I bought a bottle many years ago and kept on forgetting to check what to do with it. I finally drank it dissolved with water. It was such a fantastic acid thirst quencher in the middle of the summer. I’m looking forward to see more of your experiments with this book.

    • I’ve been learning more about this region too Sissi. I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t have a pleasant experience in North-Africa. In terms of your bottle of pom molasses, I imagine that it wasn’t as easy to research other ideas years ago as it is today.I will have to try it as a drink … I’m thinking of adding some to sparking water. Looking forward to summer!

  27. Barb, this salad and its delicious ingredients list sounds fantastic. I know there are many times you just want to physically hold a cook book in your hand and touch the pagers and look at the photos and dog tag the pages. We so need to get Sawson to write a book!!!! Take care, BAM

  28. I have pomegranate molasses so I’m focused and ready to make this. I love this recipe and I love this sort of food. Beautiful dish.

  29. Tandy says:

    I always have pomegranate molasses in my fridge so thank you for sharing these recipes 🙂

  30. Charles says:

    “pomegranate molasses” … gosh, I never even knew such a thing existed, haha!

    I especially love the sound of the pomegranate chicken – how awesome doesn’t that sound?! Love middle-eastern cuisine… so fresh and full of flavour, though as I mentioned, despite my love, I’ve never heard of those molasses. That’s how it is though isn’t it… there’s so much I have surely never heard of… waiting to be discovered!

  31. That first photo really caught my eye!! Much like the cook book did for you:) That looks so luscious, I haven’t really tried cooking with those ingredients and you’ve got me thinking I’d just better get going! When I get back from holidays, I’ll be looking for that molasses! xx

  32. Karen says:

    Both recipes sound terrific.

  33. Amanda says:

    looks delicious! i love pomegranate!

  34. Ali says:

    I’ve never eaten pomegranate, let alone used it in cooking! Both of these recipes look great, maybe I should look into trying it out!

  35. That does look like a snoop-worthy book. Love pomegranates at the moment. They were selling them for 99C at my local 🙂

  36. What an interesting book! I love the cover and the recipe you tried.

  37. Purely.. Kay says:

    These flavors are absolutely amazing. I can see myself enjoying every bit of this dish.

  38. Congratulations! I have nominated you for a blogging award 😀 Check out the post here:

  39. Lovely healty and great colored dish…
    i had a daily fresh pomegranate juice,
    this is just perfec recipe within

  40. I’m so glad I found your blog! I’m so getting this book! From one mouse to another… Thanks for sharing!

  41. sybaritica says:

    I love that dessing for the aubergine… lots of other uses too I’d say 🙂

  42. Randall says:

    Very delectable recipe. Love the photography. I pinned the cookbook to my Cookbooks board and food imageto my Food Creations board on my Pinterest page: .

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I love pomegranates.

    Would like to invite you to check ot my blog, Fun with Food ( ).


  43. I love the combination of arugula, roasted eggplant and sweet pomegranate dressing….drooooool. Gonna have to look up this book on Amazon. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  44. Karista says:

    This does look fabulous Barb! I absolutely adore eggplant and of course pomegranate. I will have to bookmark this one. Perfect for a spring dinner. 🙂

  45. Lilly Sue says:

    Hey hey, I have just recognized you on my blog for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Cheers!

    • Thanks very much Lilly Sue. You’ve brightened my day…because I am certainly feeling guilty about my much neglected blog at the moment. Life has been overwhelming recently and there’s been little time to post or comment. I really appreciate the shout out from such a lovely fellow blogger. Hope you get to have a pear cocktail with your mom this weekend.

      • Lilly Sue says:

        Don’t feel bad- life can be busy and I totally understand the neglect of a blog! I won’t get to share it with my mom because she is out of town! But I will enjoy breakfast with her next week, hopefully 😦

  46. I am definitely giving that salad a go this week. It looks delicious!!

  47. Hi there everyone, it’s my first go to see at
    this web site, and paragraph is in fact fruitful in favor of me, keep up posting such articles.

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