Narsharab (Pomegranate Syrup)

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I have to tell you about a syrup I discovered.  This syrup might just change the way you think about or consume such foods as grilled lamb chops, grilled fish, roasted turkey, pancakes, cheesecake, and fior di latte ice cream.  Yes, it is versatile and boy is it good.  I would also bet that you have already tasted a well-known chemically prepared version of this sauce a.k.a. grenadine syrup.  That’s right.  It’s the syrup that we used to make Roy Rogers and Shirley Temple cocktails with when we were youngsters.  However, the store bought version is packed with high fructose corn syrup and probably has nothing of a pomegranate inside.  The original and authentic grenadine syrup is named for the French word “grenade” meaning pomegranate and is hence made from the same.

I tasted this syrup for the first time in a Georgian restaurant in Moscow.  It was served drizzled over herb marinated grilled lamb chops.  After that meal, I just about decided that Georgian cuisine is my new favorite.  I did a little research and found that this sauce, Narsharab as it is called, is very typical of the Southern Caucasus region, including Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.  I asked my friend Julia to bring me (another!) bottle of pomegranate sauce on her last trip to Moscow.  I was curious to know what the ingredients were because I wanted to try my hand at making a version to share with you. 

Pomegranates & Sugar.

It’s that simple!  Now why didn’t I think of that before?   Ingredients 2 cups pomegranate seeds 1 cup raw granulated sugar 1/2 cup water Instructions

  1. In a medium size saucepan over medium heat, cook the pomegranate seeds, sugar and water.  Smash with a potato masher* towards the end of the cooking process.
  2. When sauce reduces and becomes thick (approx. 30-45 minutes), pour the sauce through a strainer.  Presto!  You’re done!

Sauce can be served warm or cold.  Remaining sauce should be stored in the refrigerator.  



* After cooking the seeds for 30 minutes, I scooped them out of the syrup and put them in a potato press (the one I use is from Ikea, called Idealisk).  I squeezed the jelly from the seeds back into the simmering pot of syrup and cooked for another 15 minutes. If you are using ripe, flavorful pomegranates, then this recipe will yield a very tart and sweet syrup.  You only need a small drizzle or dip on meats, or any other dish you choose.  A little goes a long way here. You can also add 1 - 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the above listed proportions if you want to boost the tartness of this syrup.  I’ve made it both ways and both are delicious.  I personally prefer with the lemon juice. Tricks There is a very quick and easy way to get the seeds out of a pomegranate.  You will need a large mixing bowl, a cutting board, knife and a large spoon.  Cut the tuft off of the pomegranate.  Quarter the pomegranate.  Make sure that you always cut a pomegrate with its skin towards you and the seed-side down.  This will help to eliminate random projections of pomegranate juice.  Make sure you wear an apron or old t-shirt anyway because the juice will stain.   Hold one of the quarters in one hand, seed side towards your palm and skin facing you.  Now beat the skin of the pomegranate with the back of a big spoon over your mixing bowl.  Be careful because juice will spatter in the mixing bowl so make sure you hold it down low.  You will be amazed at how quick and easy this method is.  You still might have to manually fish out a few seeds but this definitely beats picking them out one by one!   It dawned on me while I was making the pomegranate syrup that you could also easily substitute other fruits such as papaya, pineapple, cherries, blueberries, cranberries using the same proportions.  So I tried with blueberries and cranberries (in two separate batches) and I can confirm my hypothesis.  They were both successes.

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3 Responses to Narsharab (Pomegranate Syrup)

  1. Rustam says:

    Narsharab has been around for centuries, it is delicious, and also has a ton of antioxidants. This is definitely a great sauce to have around the house. Great with Fish, Lamb, Meats, you name it.

    Most New York City and Jersey Grocery stores already carry it. Don’t be surprised if this will soon replace the ketchup bottle at homes.


  2. Anonymous says:

    The recipe is for grenadine. There’s no added sugar in narsharab. Just heavily reduced (by 2/3, or so) pomegranate juice, sometimes flavored with some spices (cloves, etc.)

  3. Rashad says:

    Well, Narsharab is actually an Azerbaijani sauce. It means “wine of pomegranate” in Azeri. But you’re right, it’s extremely popular in the region.

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