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How to Make Homemade Pomegranate Molasses – Nar Eksisi

Homemade pomegranate molasses, Nar Eksisi

Homemade pomegranate molasses, Nar Eksisi

I adore the taste of rich, tangy pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi. It is an essential ingredient in Antakya and southern Turkish cuisine and widely used in Middle Eastern cooking. The concentrated flavor of pomegranates molasses adds so much goodness and flavor to salads, casseroles, dips and desserts.

Pomegranates freshly squeezed on a traditional hand held juicer, in Pergamum, Turkey

Pomegranates freshly squeezed on a traditional hand held juicer, in Pergamum, Turkey

In addition of its delicious and natural sweet and tangy taste, pomegranate is also very rich in nutrient, packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. I have lots of fond memories of drinking freshly squeezed pomegranates, nar suyu, during my travels in Turkey, like this glass we had while visiting Pergamum, during our culinary and cultural tours.

Bountiful, flavorful pomegranates, packed with goodness

Bountiful, flavorful pomegranates, packed with goodness

Pomegranates feature often especially in southern Turkish and Antakya cuisine. We use the thick & fragrant pomegranate molasses sauce, nar eksisi in Spicy Bulgur wheat salad, Kisir, a specialty in the southeast of Turkey, offered as a welcome to guests. This delicious sauce adds so much flavor to Gavurdagi Salad of tomatoes, onions and walnuts. We also like to “bathe” vegetables like peppers and zucchini or courgettes in pomegranate molasses, before stuffing them with aromatic rice and ground meat, as in this Stuffed peppers with bulgur, ground meat and pomegranate molasses. You can also serve pomegranate molasses and olive oil in a small bowl to accompany Potato and bulgur rolls, Patatesli, bulgurlu kofte; their flavor complement one another so beautifully. This lovely condiment, Nar Eksisi, and many more wholesome condiments and recipes are featured at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes From My Homeland, available to order at this link.

Homemade pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi

Homemade pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi

I was very excited to get some big, juicy pomegranates at my Turkish food market in North Cheam, England and made my own pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi. It is worth while making your own, as it will be all natural and less sweet than the commercial ones; you will really taste the pomegranates and nothing else.

Squeezing the juice out of pomegranate seeds

Squeezing the juice out of pomegranate seeds

It is easy to make pomegranate molasses at home; the trickiest bit is getting the juice out of the pomegranate seeds. The way I do is to take out all the seeds, place a large bowl under the sink and squeeze the pomegranate seeds with your hands through a sieve over the bowl. Try to extract as much of the juice as you can. Or if you are lucky enough to get freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, you can use that too.

Homemade pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi, ready to use

Homemade pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi, ready to use

You can keep your home made pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi, covered in the fridge for at least two months. It will thicken more as it cools down and sets in the fridge, so good to bear in mind. Pomegranate molasses is in constant use in our kitchen from a simple salad dressing to adding flavors to the meals and worth the investment.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

5.0 from 8 reviews
How to Make Homemade Pomegranate Molasses - Nar Eksisi
 
I adore the taste of rich, tangy pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi. It is an essential ingredient in Antakya and southern Turkish cuisine and widely used in Middle Eastern cooking. The concentrated flavor of pomegranates molasses adds so much goodness and flavor to salads, casseroles, dips and desserts. Afiyet Olsun!
Author:
Recipe type: Sauces - Pomegranate Molasses
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Ingredients
  • 1058 ml /4 ½ cups / 2 ¼ lb. freshly squeezed pomegranates juice (out of 8 large pomegranates)
  • 26 gr / 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Take out all the pomegranate seeds and save in a bowl.
  2. Place a large bowl and a sieve under the sink.
  3. Squeeze the pomegranate seeds with your hands through a sieve over the large bowl. Try to extract as much of the juice as you can. Discard the left over seeds.
  4. Pour in the freshly squeezed pomegranate juice in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the sugar.
  5. Bring the pan to a boil over medium to high heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  6. Add the lemon juice, mix and reduce the heat to medium to low, just enough for simmering.
  7. Simmer for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes; the juice will get thicken and reduce to ¾ cups.
  8. Turn the heat off and let the pomegranate molasses cool. It will thicken more as it cools down.
  9. Once cool, pour into a glass jar with an airtight lid on.
  10. Store in the fridge up to 2 months.
  11. Makes ¾ cup / 177 ml/ 6 fl oz. pomegranate molasses
 

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Ali Nazik Kebab; lamb stew over smoked eggplant and yoghurt puree

Ali Nazik Kebab; tender lamb stew over smoked eggplant and yoghurt puree

Ali Nazik Kebab; tender lamb stew over smoked eggplant and yoghurt puree

Alinazik or Ali Nazik kebab is a scrumptious Gaziantep specialty and one of our favorites. It is a delicious marriage of char-grilled smoked eggplant puree mixed with yoghurt and topped with tender lamb stew. We serve Alinazik with rice pilaf and grilled vegetables aside. It really is a feast to all senses and a special dish to share.

I was curious where the name Ali Nazik came from and found two different stories. One of them dates back to 16th century Ottoman Empire, during the reign of Yavuz Sultan Selim. On a trip to the city of Antep, (today’s Gaziantep in Turkey), the Sultan was greeted with this local delicacy of delicious eggplant and yogurt mash with grilled lamb over. Sultan Selim liked the dish so much and asked “Who’s ‘gentle hand’ (“eli nazik” in Turkish) made this?” The story tells that the name, ‘ali nazik,’ has stuck since then.

Another story says that is that the name was adopted from the old Ottoman Turkish language, where ‘ala’ meant ‘beautiful’ and ‘nazik’ meant ‘food.’ Over the centuries, this turned to ‘ali nazik’ (In modern Turkish, ‘nazik’ means ‘polite,’ thus the meaning ‘polite Ali’).

Smoky eggplant puree with garlicy yoghurt is a match made in heaven.

Smoky eggplant puree with garlicy yoghurt is a match made in heaven.

The highlight of this dish for us is the delicious smoked eggplant puree, mashed with plain yoghurt (strained or thick, creamy yoghurt is recommended. Brand Fage works well). To get the smoky flavor for the eggplants, I highly recommend roasting them over a coal fire (here’s how to roast the eggplant over the burner) or over the gas burner (In Turkey, a very simple gadget called “Kozmatik” is used to cook the aubergines over the burner. It has a steel base with holes on it, a genius idea to cook if you can get it). It makes a bit of a mess but the smoky taste of the eggplants is well worth it. You can cook the eggplants a day ahead of time. Once mashed, mix with juice of ½ lemon to help retain its color and keep in the fridge, covered.

Ali Nazik Kebab; tender pieces of lamb stew served over the smoked eggplant and garlic yoghurt puree

Ali Nazik Kebab; tender pieces of lamb stew served over the smoked eggplant and garlic yoghurt puree

Traditionally, stewed tender pieces of lamb in a sauce are used in Ali Nazik, though you may replace it with a meat of your choice. The creamy eggplant and yoghurt puree is just heavenly with the meat topping, hope you enjoy Ali Nazik.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

5.0 from 4 reviews
Ali Nazik Kebab; lamb stew over smoked eggplant and yoghurt puree
 
Ali Nazik Kebab, a southern Turkish specialty from Gaziantep region, is a feast to all senses. The smoky eggplant and garlicky yoghurt puree provide a delicious base for the tender lamb stew, placed over the top. Served with grilled vegetables and plain rice, Ali Nazik is a delicious and impressive kebab to enjoy.
Author:
Recipe type: Traditional Turkish Kebabs
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For the eggplant and yoghurt puree:
  • 4 medium purple eggplants
  • 16 fl. oz. / 2 cup thick, whole milk yoghurt (brand Fage works well)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely diced
  • 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • For the meat topping:
  • 450gr/1 lb. small chunks of lamb (or meat of your choice)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • ½ tbsp. red pepper paste or 2 tsp. chili flakes (optional, if you like a spicy taste)
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 30ml/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. water
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • For the roasted vegetables:
  • 3 medium tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 green, yellow and red bell peppers, deseeded and quartered
  • 1 onion, quartered and sliced
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Handful of chopped flat leaf parsley to serve
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F
  2. First prepare the eggplants. Place the eggplants or aubergines directly over the burner on medium heat and roast for about 15 - 20 minutes, turning occasionally.
  3. Use metal tongs to turn the eggplants around so that all sides would cook evenly and the skin is nicely chargrilled. Cook until the skin is burnt and the flesh is soft (you can also cook this way over barbeque).
  4. Remove the cooked eggplants to a colander to allow them to cool. Once cool, peel and discard their burnt skin and leave them in the colander to drain its bitter juices. I like to gently squeeze the eggplant flesh to drain as much water as possible.
  5. Chop the flesh of the eggplant and mix in the chopped garlic, season with salt and ground black pepper. Combine well, cover and set aside until the lamb stew is ready (If you’d like to prepare the eggplants a day ahead of time, then mix the eggplant mash with juice of ½ lemon to help retain its color and keep in the fridge, covered).
  6. To roast the vegetables, spread the quartered and sliced onions, tomatoes and peppers in a tray and stir in 2 tbsp. olive oil. Season with salt and ground black pepper and combine well. Roast at the preheated oven (180 C/ 350 F) for 30 – 35 minutes.
  7. For the lamb stew, cut the lamb into chunky, generous bite size pieces.
  8. Pour in 2 tbsp. olive oil in a wide, heavy pan and stir in the diced onions. Sauté over medium to high heat for 3 minutes, the onions will start to soften.
  9. Stir in the lamb pieces and sauté with the onions for 5 minutes, mixing regularly. The lamb will release its juice.
  10. Add the red pepper paste and/or red pepper flakes (if using) and tomato paste to the pan, combine well. Check the seasoning and turn the heat to low. Stir in 2 tbsp. water, combine and cover the pan. Simmer the lamb gently for about 20 minutes, until tender.
  11. Just before serving, pour in 1 tbsp. olive oil in a pan and gently reheat the eggplant & garlic puree until it is hot. Turn the heat off and stir the yoghurt to the eggplant pure and combine well.
Notes
To get the smoky flavor for the eggplants, I highly recommend roasting them over a coal fire or over the gas burner (In Turkey, a very simple gadget called “Kozmatik” is used to cook the aubergines over the burner. It has a steel base with holes on it, a genius idea to cook if you can get it). It makes a bit of a mess but the smoky taste of the eggplants is well worth it. You can cook the eggplants a day ahead of time. Once mashed, mix with juice of ½ lemon to help retain its color and keep in the fridge, covered.

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Baba ghanoush or Abagannuc; burnt eggplant salad with lemon, olive oil

Baba ghanoush; Abagannuc; burnt eggplant, tomatoes and peppers in garlic, olive oil and pomegranate molasses

Baba ghanoush or Abagannuc; burnt eggplant, tomatoes and peppers in garlic, olive oil and pomegranate molasses

This delicious salad or dip, Abagannuc or Baba ghanoush, is very popular in Antakya and Southern Turkish cuisine and one of our family favorites. It has many variations throughout the Middle East, where tahini maybe added or plain yoghurt and what to include or not include may invite heated debates! No matter how the finishing touch will be, the essence of this salad remains the same; the aubergines are traditionally cooked over open fire or over the burner to get the smoky flavor. The skin of aubergines and peppers burn and their flesh becomes soft, sweet and tender.

Kozmatik from home; a steel base with holes on it, a genius idea to cook/char grill the vegetables without much of a mess!

Kozmatik from home; a steel base with holes on it, a genius idea to cook/char grill the vegetables without much of a mess!

In Turkey, a very simple gadget called “Kozmatik” is used to cook the aubergines over the burner. It has a steel base with holes on it, a genius idea to cook the vegetables without much of a mess!

Leave the peeled eggplant fleshin the colander to drain its bitter juices.

Leave the peeled eggplant fleshin the colander to drain its bitter juices.

You can cook the aubergines a day ahead of time; just add ½ juice of lemon after mashing and combine well, that will help to retain its color. Cover and keep in the fridge until you make the salad. I also added a drizzle of pomegranate molasses as a dressing in this version; the smoky flavor of aubergines and peppers worked really well with pomegranate molasses. When in season, pomegranate seeds would also be lovely over this salad.

Abagannuc or baba ghanoush goes very well as part of a mezze spread or with any grills. I also love this dip on crackers or toasted bread with a nice sharp cheese or feta cheese aside.

Abagannuc or baba ghannoush, a delicious smoky eggplant salad with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses.

Abagannuc or baba ghannoush, a delicious smoky eggplant salad with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses.

I hope you enjoy our version of Abagannuc or baba ghannoush, packed with flavor.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

5.0 from 1 reviews
Baba ghanoush-Abagannuc; burnt eggplant salad with garlic, olive oil
 
Abagannuc or baba ghanoush is a popular mezze or salad in southern Turkish cuisine, where eggplants are char grilled to get a delicious, smoky flavor. It has different versions throughout the Middle East. We'd like to add a little pomegranate molasses in our version for a tangy, sweet flavor. This salad / dip goes very well as part of a mezze spread or with any grills. I also love this dip on crackers or toasted bread with a nice sharp cheese or feta cheese aside.
Author:
Recipe type: Turkish Mezzes, Salads
Cuisine: Regional Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 medium aubergines / eggplants
  • 1 pointy red pepper or bell pepper
  • 3 small, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed with salt and finely chopped
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 30ml/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • A drizzle (about 10ml/2 tsp) pomegranate molasses to decorate (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to serve
Instructions
  1. Line the base of your burners with a foil to protect, keeping only the burners exposed.
  2. Place the eggplants or aubergines and pepper directly over the burner on medium heat and roast for about 15 - 20 minutes, turning occasionally. (You can roast the tomatoes on a barbeque or on the oven at 200 C for about 20-25 minutes, as it can get quite messy over the burner.)
  3. If you prefer not to have the smoky flavor, you can also score the aubergines with a knife in few places and bake on a baking tray for 50 – 60 minutes. In this case, turn them around every 20 minutes or so that they would cook evenly. Pepper would need about 35-40 minutes to cook in the oven and chargrill.
  4. If you are cooking over the burner, use metal tongs to turn the aubergines and pepper around so that all sides would cook evenly and the skin is nicely chargrilled. Cook until the skin is burnt and the flesh is soft.
  5. Remove the cooked aubergines, tomatoes and the pepper to a colander to allow them to cool. Once cool, peel and discard their burnt skin and leave them in the colander to drain aubergine’s bitter juices. I like to gently squeeze the aubergine flesh to drain as much water as possible.
  6. Chop the flesh of the aubergine, pepper and tomatoes coarsely and mash them with a fork.
  7. Place the flesh in a bowl and stir in the chopped garlic, lemon juice and the extra virgin olive oil, combine well. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  8. When serving, drizzle with pomegranate molasses over (if you prefer to) and give a gentle mix; its tangy flavor works really well with the smoked aubergine and peppers.
 

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