Its Persian name is “Anar”انار, contrary to the difficult word pomegranate, the simplicity of “anar” shows how often it must have been used in everyday lives of Persians in the past. It was known as a fruit from paradise and there for planted around many worship locations and religion schools. It also had industrial usages , traditionally the thick layer of red pomegranate skin was used as color sources for coloring Persian carpet wool, hair color, fabric etc.
The nutritious aspects of this fruit which are antioxidants and blood purifier among others is the reasons that pomegranate is usually mentioned in health talks in all around the world. It has become available in many countries nowadays, yet the proper way of pealing this fruit and using it can be a bit confusing. Iranians can usually peal it and take all the seeds out without a drop of juice going to waste, look at the images below you can learn how to so. The point is, after you take off the head, you should run down the knife only through the white separation layers of the fruit and than pull it apart.
But how is pomegranate in the modern day Iran? Pomegranate has two types, the sweet type which have white skin and the sour or sour-sweet type which has red skin, therefore it can attack almost anybody due to this variety of taste. It is even a favorite among children since they “ab-lambo” , which means smashing into juice. When one cant be bothered the trouble of pealing the fruit, ab-lambu is the solution, which means smashing it smoothly with fingers, than making a small whole in the skin and sucking out the juice (very popular method for smaller pomegranate). Eating it raw is also very popular in the season, but these are not what makes pomegranate special and essential to Iranian life style.
In the season of pomegranate which is autumn, the juice is extracted and boiled until it becomes thick and turns to a dark brown sauce. This juice is the main ingredient in one of the most popular Iranian meals, it is called “Fesenjan stew” which eaten with white rice. Beside pomegranate sauce, it has chicken, walnut and spices. Cooking good fesenjan shows you’re a good cook, its some how a tricky food. Since the sauce is also available in sweet or sour tastes, the fesenjan stew varies according to household taste.
Pomegranate is also a inevitable component in the celebration of “Yalda”, the longest and darkest night of the year. In calendar the night of December 20/21 th, the night of the northern hemisphere’s winter solstice. Yalda is usually celebrated by family gatherings. Reading Hafez’s poems which we believe tell our fortunes out load is a fun tradition, watermelon and pomegranate are the servings on Yalda night. The best and biggest pomegranates are usually preserved for this night and are only brought to the market a few days earlier.
Before going on with the pomegranate popularity in Iran you need to know that in Iran there is this extreme popularity of sour products . World wide snacks nowadays are usually sugar based or salty products, but in traditional life style of Iran, there was a variety of sour snacks also, that still continue to be popular. “Lavashak” and “aluche” are among these sour products that were made domestically and consumed as snacks. Basically they are sour fruits boiled and thickened with spices, which are left to dry or half dry and than preserved. They are very tasty and addictive with their mouth watering tastes. Pomegranate, cherry, apricot, plum and mixed fruit are popular tastes. They are sold in supermarkets nowadays.
Back to pomegranate, all around the world there are stores serving juices but the evolution in Iran is that we stores that only serve pomegranate beverages/snacks. Pomegranate juice, ice cream, froppe, fadule, which have become very popular and can be found in busy areas. The secret of this popularity is decorating the juices or ice-creams with aluche and lavashak. So once you orders a pomegranate juice, you can choose to have lavashak, aluche, dried pomegranate seeds, frozen pomegranate seed or a combination of all on the beverage. The best part is that there is a variety of sour to sweet aluche and lavashak available, which you can taste first and then choose.
If you like sour tastes, be sure to taste this pomegranate combination while in Iran. You will be surprised to see the popular stores. In Tehran especially you have many of these stores also in Big cities in Iran. This is the most exciting snack you can find in Iran