306- Pure Persian Pomegranate pleasure

By Lauren Gosnell

With interesting stews and heavenly rice, Persian foods are beyond the realm of experience for most Westerners.

Fortunately, the Pomegranate on College Street brings the heady exotic experience to the neighbourhood. For husband-wife owners Alireza Fakhrashrafi and Danielle Schrage, Persia is their passion.

Alireza was born in Iran and met Danielle at the University of Toronto where they were both enrolled in Persian Studies. The Pomegranate fulfils their dream of bringing a traditional Persian-style chai house to Toronto.

FesenjaanChef Alireza recreates the recipes he grew up with in Iran, passed on from his mother and grandmother, such as fesenjaan — literally the “food of life”. Its sweet, hearty and rich flavour comes from ground walnuts and heavily reduced pomegranate syrup. The richness is balanced out with tender morsels of chicken breast.

The fesenjaan is best enjoyed served with one of the many versions of polo on offer. An eye-catching choice is the morasa polo jeweled rice — light fluffy basmati sprinkled with diced carrots, tart barberries, and saffron strands.

The pomegranate originated in Iran. It is high in vitamin C and polyphenols with reputed antioxidant cancer-fighting benefits. There has also been some evidence that the tannins in pomegranates may reduce blood pressure. The fruit is so significant to the culture that it features prominently in Persian art, poetry and stories, not just the cuisine.

PoloThe qormeh sabzi green stew is another tantalizing Pomegranate specialty. It makes ample use of the fresh herbs that are essential in Persian cooking.

A medley of fresh coriander, parsley, tareh (chives) and fenugreek leaves gives this lamb stew the intense dark green colour it is named after. It has an extra sweet and sour citric note from sun-dried limes called limoo omani. The limes are cooked whole in the stew and if you bite into one of them, you get a burst of mouth-puckering flavour.

You should end your Persian odyssey with a traditional tea, sipped through slow-dissolving extra hard sugar cubes clenched between your back molars. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to enjoy it sitting on the Pomegranate’s takht, a rather splendid Oriental daybed.

The Pomegranate
420 College St.
Toronto, ON