My grandmother (God rest her soul) had one habit that I remember. She would take a break every day from her household duties, around four PM, to sit and eat a couple of pomegranates. She would chew the seeds slowly, as if she was meditating. She was a diabetic and hypertensive, so I don’t really know if she was eating them because pomegranates are “good for you” or if she truly liked them a lot. In any case, the pomegranates no doubt helped maintain her until her very late eighties.
This dessert is wonderful because it is light, “good for you” and it looks pretty and cheerful. It is also a snap to prepare. It used to be a tradition in Beirut to always have some dried fruits and nuts marinating in syrup available in the fridge for unexpected visitors (khoshaf). People in the middle-east like to drop by unannounced and nobody wants to be caught without anything to offer! I saw this recipe in a lovely book called Seductive Flavours of the Levant by Nada Saleh. Ms. Saleh says this dessert is served at engagement parties in Aleppo. She mentions that it is great for a buffet. Agree!
1 or 2 or 3 or more pomegranates, depending on the number of servings (1 jumbo-size will yield 4 servings)
2 ounces each pistachios, pine nuts, almonds, walnuts (this quantity for 2 jumbo pomegranates, can be increased or decreased)
Syrup: 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of water, 2 teaspoons orange blossom water (can use rose water)
- Peel and deseed the pomegranate(s). Place in a bowl.
- Place all the nuts in a separate bowl and cover with enough water to cover. Let them sit in water one hour minimum.
- Make the syrup: Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and add the orange blossom water, stir, let it cool.
- When the syrup has cooled, pour the syrup onto the pomegranates. Add the nuts (peel them to make them more attractive) and keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Sahteyn!
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