Friday, June 5, 2009

Ash-e-anar or Pomegranate Stew

My parents have green thumbs, so much so that after a lifetime of work, they took up farming at an age when others would have peacefully retired with books and rocking chairs. The farm is about an hour away, but even back home, no patch of earth around the house remains bare.

We have a lemon tree, plantains, bitter gourd, ivy gourd, tomatoes, various herbs....a not so short list. I'm glad I've inherited their love for the land. Before, it was an admiration for nature- the beauty, the complexity, but with farming, its all about the way you literally reap what you sow. With just a little coaxing, the earth is so ready to present us with beautiful bounties and that's something one can appreciate with every flower, fruit or vegetable.

In my day dreams (which is how I spend most of the day), I imagine my future home, or rather the land around my future home. Green and lush, I see myself clearing out a generous bit for my very own vegetable garden- the fresh tomatoes and cucumbers ready to be plucked, the fruit trees standing watch as I thank each plant for its gift to me- which is something I do even now, I should add. Everytime I pluck something from a plant,vine or tree, I thank it.

I had a whole lot of thanks to give to our two pomegranate trees this year- they outdid themselves and are literally laden with fruits.

It brought to mind a recipe which has been in my file for quite a while now. A Iranian/Persian soup or stew called Ash-e-anar. I was quite curious to see how this would taste and I'm delighted to find out that this is a very hearty dish- quite delicious and satisfying. There was something familiar about the taste- I think the addition of the lentils brought it very close to our Indian Sambar.

Our pomegranates have pale pink flesh, which unfortunately did nothing for the color of the soup. Also, the original recipe calls for meatballs. Being vegetarian, I just threw in some soy chunks.


1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves, garlic
1 handful, fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup yellow split peas
3 cups pomegranate juice
3 cups water
1/2 cup rice
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1.5 tsp salt
1.2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
Meat balls/soy chunks

Cook the yellow split peas in a pressure cooker or pan till soft and keep aside. Soak the rice in water for 10 mins. Heat the oil and add the chopped onion. Cook till translucent and add the garlic and mint leaves. After a minute, add the rest of the ingredients including the lentils and rice. Simmer, close and cook for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve hot!


  1. I didn't think pomegranates had many savory applications-- I'm quite intrigued by this, thanks for sharing! :) Your farm is BEAUTIFUL :)

  2. Thank you so much. Drop in anytime you come to India! I love showing people around,especially our farm :)