I keep snacking on these little guys while I’m trying to write – they’re like candy. Slightly sweet, a bit sour, toothsome with a crunch from the actual seed. Anardana are pomegranate seeds that have been air-dried – a process that renders them caramelized and concentrated with delicious pomegranate flavor (and leaves no red juice stains on your kitchen counter…).
I love working with this spice, yes, because the flavor is unique and pomegranate is always lovely. But moreso because it’s an incredibly versatile spice. Anardana lends its flavor to everything from fish to chicken to lamb to desserts! It can be ground up and used as a dry rub for a steak. Or the seeds can be soaked and strained like tamarind, and the resulting liquid used for a sauce (sweet or savoury). Pomegranate molasses, which I use in a bbq sauce, is actually made from cooking the seeds down to their most concentrated, viscous form, but I love anardana precisely because I have the option to add the flavor without a syrup or added liquid. It’s a fantastic souring agent in a braise or sprinkled on everything from soups to salads to rice dishes.
Traditionally, anardana has been used in South Asian, Persian, and other Middle Eastern cuisines. It’s a component in many Indian stews, and the flavor improves the longer you cook it. It also makes a fantastic chutney, and I’m envisioning a lamb dish with a sauce or chutney made from these tasty morsels.
You definitely want to keep these in an airtight container as humidity will make the seeds even stickier. And you want a chewier, moister seed – if the seeds are dry and hard, it’s a bad batch, and they just won’t be as flavorful. The seeds can be found at Indian and Middle Eastern grocers, and online through spice purveyors and even Amazon.