Much Ado About Nar
I am fond of singing the praises of pomegranate, more commonly known around here by the superior name, nar. Because Azerbaijan peddles in the most delicious nar I’ve ever had, a delicacy of ruby-red succulence, I should probably give you a few ideas of the range of tastes nar can cater to. This also comes at the request of a prized reader (thanks for the suggestion, Pat!) The first thing to note, for the uninitiated, is that you can just crunch away at the seeds-don’t be silly and try to spit out endless nar seeds. Enjoy the sweet-tart crunch!
First, the way I like my nar best is just freshly opened, the juicy seeds a mountain in a bowl to be eaten by the handful. It makes for a great after-dinner snack. Another favorite practiced by the masculine men of this region is fresh-squeezed nar juice. And not just fresh-squeezed, but hand-squeezed. I remember my host father in Sumqayıt grabbing a nice nar, slicing one end of it, and proceeding to squeeze the juice out of it with one hand into a glass positioned below (to be consumed as is, or with a shot of vodka, if you so choose. That shot could have the nar juice added or consumed as a chaser). Those two methods are the most common, but there are certainly more ways to enjoy the nar fruit:
- Recently, I’ve been mixing nar seeds with plain yogurt in the morning for breakfast. It makes for a light, crunchy, sweet, tart addition to the morning. I may start to make granola and add that to the mix, as well.
- Last week, we were making pizza and found ourselves with a bowl full of nar seeds. Instead of eating them by the handful, we spread them lightly throughout a pizza (also featuring eggplant, garlic slices, and basil) and the result was a hit. Consensus said that the addition of the nar seeds, then baked in with the rest of the toppings, was a practice worth continuing.
- Also last week, we made a salad of greens and walnuts, topped with a lemon salad dressing, like the recipe here brought to you by my good friend Martha Stewart. We threw in a few handfuls of pomegranate to give it a little extra crunch and small bursts of sweet and tart flavor.
- Lastly, for those of you looking for a tasty drink mixer, you’ll find Pomegranate martinis equal parts delicious and dangerous! You may have to adjust your measurements, but i tried this last week and it was fantastic. Think Cosmopolitan. If you have a juicer, this will be real easy. If not, it might take a little extra effort, but it’s totally worth it. Mix together vodka, triple sec (like Cointreau; we used Grand Marnier), and nar juice (this is where the juicer comes in-just put the seeds into the juicer and go to town). Serve over ice from a cocktail shaker. Perfect. The recipe here also uses a little lemon juice.