Friday, December 8, 2006

Pomegranate Snack

I was given this recipe at the Armenian Booth (Hadig) while at Festival of Nations in Minneapolis around 1996. Pomegranates are only available a short time during the holiday season, but there are suitable substitutions. According to various sources, this snack is served widely throughout the Middle East as a party snack-my particular instructions came from a 1920's Armenian Cookbook. Wheat berries are sold at some grocery stores or in bulk at health food stores (I pay about 70 cents a pound). It is the wheat kernel with just the outer hull knocked off. You can easily substitute other dried fruit for the pomegranate (I use golden raisins along with the black or chopped dried apricots). The only reason I even tried this recipe was because my SIL is of Armenian descent--very yummy recipe!

Deseeding A Pomegranate

Wheat Berries and Pomegranate Snack

2 cups (8 oz) wheat berries
1/2 cup sugar
1 large pomegranate (or 2 small ones), deseeded (or 1 cup other dried fruit such as apricots)
2 tsp. cinnamon (or 1.5 tsp. cinnamon and .5 tsp nutmeg)
1/3 cup tart fruit juice (I use cranberry)
1 cup raisins
1 cup nuts (walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, etc.)

Cook Wheat Berries: Place wheat berries into large saucepan and cover with water about 2-3 inches above top of berries. Bring to boil (draining isn't necessary), then turn down heat, cover and simmer for at least 1 hour, 10 minutes. Berries should be chewy. Drain and place in bowl.

Deseed a pomegranate: I slice the outer skin just barely to the seed so that I can break it apart by hand. Then peel out the seeds. Be sure to remove any rind as it is quite bitter. Pomegranate juice can stain your hands, so if it's important to you, wear plastic gloves.

Add seeds to bowl. Add remaining ingredients to bowl. Mix well, cover and refrigerate for 4 hours to blend flavors. Stir occasionally. Serve in bowls with spoon. This does not keep very well, so use within 2-3 days.

Note: I have used as little as 1/3 cup sugar and been satisfied with the results. The original recipe said to soak the berries overnight. I have not found this to be necessary.

A variation that I haven't tried yet from The World of Jewish Cooking by Gil Marks: Syrian Anise-flavored wheat Berries: Add 1/4 cup anise seeds before cooking the wheat berries or add 1/2 cup anise liqueur and, if desired, 1 teaspoon rose water with the fruit and nuts.For additional wheat berry recipes, here's a link. There's also a store search to find a place locally to purchase. Wheat Berry Recipes

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