Potatoes and Pomegranate Seeds (WHB#383: Anardana)

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weekend herb blogging - © kalyns kitchensummary: recipe for aloo anardana (potato masala with pomegranate seeds); information about anardana and Weekend Herb Blogging; (click on images for larger views and more photos)

Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB)#383
Anardana: Pomegranate (Punica granatum) seeds

aloo anardana The other day, we rode to Indiatown to stock up on spices. And T announced that we needed anardana.

We needed what?!

He repeated, “Anardana. It was in the SAVEUR100. It sounds good. Don’t you remember?”

I know that I’ve claimed that I read SAVEUR cover to cover. But nope. I had no recollection of anardana.

So, when we got home, I riffled through the magazine and there it was:

In northern India and Pakistan, burgundy-colored anardana — ground sundried pomegranate seed — is stirred into stewed chickpeas, incorporated into meat rubs, and sprinkled atop myriad dishes for a burst of mouthwatering piquancy.

Anardana, SAVEUR100, page 46, Issue #153, January 2013

And as I was reading about anardana, T looked through our several cookbooks to see if we had any recipes that called for anardana for a vegetarian dish that would go with lentils and flatbread for lunch.

All he found was just one lovely looking kebab recipe in “Mangoes and Curry Leaves” by Naomi Duguid and Jeffery Alford. (Remind me to rave about those kebabs!)

So, T went online to see what others had done with anardana.

Don’t you love the internet? He found the most wonderful YouTube video of a woman making potato masala. And raced back to the kitchen to make something along the same lines. He didn’t make a lot of changes to her recipe but notably, he added ginger and mustard seeds. And he didn’t use hing (asefoetida) – because we don’t have any. Not that we don’t like the flavour. (Well, actually, I confess that I’m not wild about the sour, old basketball socks sweaty flavour of hing.)

We used to have asefoetida in our arsenal, but it stinks big time. So much so that it has to be kept inside a jar that is housed inside another jar. It stinks so much that one day, we tossed it, decreeing that we would have it only when we went out for Indian food.

So. No hing in the potato masala. I went upstairs, listening to the whir of the coffee grinder and then chop chop chop, sizzle sizzle sizzle and scrape scrape scrape of the metal spatula on the wok.

And, oh! The aromas that came out of the kitchen! Then, when it was done, T called, “it’s really good; do you want to taste it?”

Well, duh. Yah!

aloo chops Wow! I LOVED the flavour! And the anardana makes the dish look so pretty too.

Here is what T did to make these fabulous potatoes:

Aloo Anardana
(Potato Masala with Pomegranate Seeds)

based on Nisha Madhulika’s recipe for Aloo Anardana

  • 4-5 white baking potatoes, unpeeled
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp anardana, ground
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 dried red chiles, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp each brown mustard, and cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 fresh green (or red) chili, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  1. Wash potatoes well. Cut into cubes and place in a pot of cold salted water and bring it to a boil. Cook, covered, until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain and set aside to cool.
  2. Grind anardana seeds in a coffee grinder.
  3. On medium high, heat oil in a wok. Add dried red chiles and fry for a few minutes until they begin to darken. Add cumin and mustard seeds and let them pop then add onion, ginger, garlic, coriander powder and turmeric.
  4. Add parboiled potatoes and fry until they start to turn crispy. Add ground anardana, green chili and garam masala powder and cook for about 2 minutes. Taste and add salt if required.

Serve immediately with flatbread and lentils garnished with coriander leaf. They are also good with chickpea curry, rice, eggplant, yoghurt, etc. etc.

weekend herb blogging - © kalyns kitchen Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB#346)
Anardana: Pomegranate (Punica granatum) seeds

This week’s WHB host is Simona (Briciole).

anardana When we hesitatingly began to ask at the Indian grocery store if they had anardana, the fellow brightly interrupted and wagging his head from side to side, said, “Yes. Yes. Powdered or whole seeds? Get the whole seeds. It’s better.” Then pointing with his chin to the aisle, “Right hand side in the middle on the bottom – you must grind it before using.”

Here’s what I found about anardana in the various books we have on our shelves and when those were exhausted, on the internet:

Anardana: Dried sour pomegranate seeds, used in Pakistan and parts of northern India to give a tart flavoring. Anardana are sold in most south Asian grocery stores, usually in small plastic bags. Dark red to black, they must be ground to a powder or simmered in hot liquid to release their flavor.

-Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid, Mangoes and Curry Leaves, p.349

Pomegranate Seeds […] Wild pomegranate trees bear pomegranates with very little of the sweet red pulp and mostly the seeds. In India, these wild pomegranates – which cannot be eaten as a fruit – are dried and used as a sour condiment or spice. […]

You can buy the pomegranate seeds at any Indian grocer, and they are also known as anardana in Hindi. You will note that although they are referred to as “dried” pomegranate seeds, they are nevertheless quite moist and sticky.

-Vikram Vij and Meeru Dhalwala, Vij’s: Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine, Indian herbs and Spices on p. 23, Seared Venison Medallions with fig and roasted pomegranate khoa on p. 76

Dried pome­granate seeds stem from sour varieties with very small fruits; their seeds cannot be eaten raw. […]

[T]he spice […] is har­vested from small-fruited trees that are much closer to the wild form. They are grown in the Hima­layas, for example along the highway from Jammu to Srinagar in the Jammu & Kashmir state of India. The small trees or shubs bear long thorns and small fruits rarely exceeding 3 cm diameter; their seeds are very acidic and astringent.

-Gernot Katzer, Spice Pages, Pomegranate (Punica granatum)

Anardana is used in Indian and Persian cuisine as a souring agent, much like sumac or amchoor. Slow air drying makes it more molasses-like than fresh pomegranate, so it adds depth of flavor as well as brightness. While other sour spices are best as finishing touches, anardana can enrich a sauce or braising liquid for as long as you like, and it only gets better with time. Slow cooked with chicken legs or lamb, the result is rich and profound. […]

What you should really watch out for is texture. Anardana ranges from slightly pliant, like a gummy candy or a recently dried chile, to rock-hard. Softer seeds are juicier and more flavorful, though if all you can find are pebbly kinds, don’t let that stop you. Some anardana is sold pre-ground, or in varying degrees of partially ground. Obviously whole seeds are best for longevity’s sake, and unless you can find fine powder, you’ll probably have to do some grinding at home anyway. Home grinders do have trouble with particularly tough kernels, so if you want a smooth sauce, you may want to strain out the anardana after long cooking. Or use a spice infuser that can be removed later.

-Max Falkowitz, Spice Hunting: Anardana, Dried Pomegranate Seeds, Serious Eats

A little more research reveals that “anardana” is a Persian word from “anar” and “dana”, literally meaning “pomegranate seeds”. There are a number of recipes for a Persian kabab made with ground meat and anardana. Apparently, anardana is also sometimes used when making bread. But the bulk of the online recipes I found were Indian.

If you can find anardana, do get some. (It would have been perfect in the spinach filling for February’s BBB bread!) Anardana lends the most wonderful flavour.

Please read more about anardana:

Please note that the deadline for entering WHB#383 is Sunday 12 May 2013 at 15:00, Utah time (GMT-7). For complete details on how to participate in Weekend Herb Blogging (recipes or informative posts where people can learn about cooking with herbs or unusual plant ingredients) created by Kalyn (Kalyn’s Kitchen), please see the following:

edit 13 May 2013: Here is the WHB#383 raccolto/roundup.


Have you ever noticed that when you discover something new, it turns out that you have indeed seen it before and just skipped right over it? When I was searching around for information about anardana, I came across a recipe calling for it in SAVEUR #150 (October 2012) and THAT recipe was revisiting Margo True’s article “Super Snack” in SAVEUR #82 (March 2005), both of which I have read cover to cover…. And what was the article about? Samosas and how to make them! With a really good photo essay of shaping (alas, the SAVEUR #82 article is not online). Ha. If I’d remembered reading it, I could have referred to it when we were making our own samosas for the first time last year! :lalala:
Now that we’ve finally learned about adding anardana to the potato masala, it’s high time to make samosas again, don’t you think?

aloo anardanachole

Related Posts:


edit: I have no idea why but any comments placed after 3 June 2013 will not appear. I’m looking into it. edit 10 June 2013: It appears that it is only on this post that new comments will not appear.
In the meantime, if you would like to comment about anardana, please do so on the chapli kebabs post.

2nd edit 10 June 2013: Whoohooo!! I solved the problem! It had to do with WordPress refusing to render a commented out section in one of the comments. (If that made zero sense to you, don’t worry about it. The whole thing is senseless.) 

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7 responses to “Potatoes and Pomegranate Seeds (WHB#383: Anardana)

  1. barbara

    When I first read about the pomegranate seeds, I thought it was the fresh ones. I so like the _idea_ of the fresh ones, but I don’t like hitting that big seed. Having them dried and ground is a whole different thing. I think I have get some, and I have to make this potato curry _and_ the samosas. I wonder if the missing anardana is what’s been preventing my samosas from tasting as good as the good ones I remember from restaurants.

    I like the idea of fresh ones too, Barbara. But exactly – that big seed is so annoying! Interestingly, the dried seeds aren’t exactly dry. They’re sort of sticky. Do you have a store near you that sells Indian spices? If so, that’s where you can get the anardana. Make sure you get whole seeds rather than pre-ground ones. -Elizabeth

  2. Simona

    Your posts always make me want to run to the spice section of the grocery store and get whatever you describe. I think for the anardana I will have to wait until I can get to an Indian store. In the meantime, I will try to imagine how the potatoes taste. Thank you so much for your contribution to WHB!

    You do? That is so cool! I hope you can find anardana soon. It’s really good Thank YOU for hosting WHB, Simona. -Elizabeth

  3. janet @ the taste space

    I love discovering new spices as well. I think I have anardana in whole form but haven’t ventured to find a recipe for it… now I can try yours. Yum! :)

    I hope you like it as much as we do, Janet. Anardana is also really great in ground meat (look for Persian or Iranian recipes). -Elizabeth

  4. lucia

    It’s a pleasure to discover your blog and know you through whb! Is unusual for me the combination potato and pomegranate (and i don’t know potato masala…) but it’s a great idea! Bye

    Thank you, Lucia! Events like WHB are why I love the internet. I do hope you’ll try these Indian style potatoes. They’re delicious. -Elizabeth

  5. Dhruv Thaker

    Nice recipe. Combination of potato and pomegranate, awesome.

    Delicious dish, would like to add some sauce to make it more yummy.

    What kind of sauce would you add, Dhruv Thaker? -Elizabeth

  6. barbara

    How do you grind the seeds yourself? Reading what Max Falkowitz says in your quote “Home grinders do have trouble with particularly tough kernels” makes me think that I’d rather risk getting them pre-ground even if they’re less fresh.

    I usually go to India Town to get my spices and my dal. Even though it’s not particularly close by, it’s fun to go there and sniff the smells and hear the voices.

  7. ejm Post author

    In an electric coffee grinder, Barbara. I was a little worried that they’d be too sticky for the grinder but there was no problem at all.

    Fingers crossed that this comment miraculously appears.


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