Often my friends will ask where I find my recipes. Sometimes I’ve been inspired by a dish I’ve eaten at a restaurant and then will attempt to recreate it at home from the memory of the flavors; other times I’ll wander the market and let the ingredients speak to me. But most often, I find a single ingredient that intrigues me, and experiment until I come up with a recipe. That’s how this recipe came about.
I once assisted a photographer by shopping for the ingredients she was going to use in a photo shoot for a story on holiday foods from other cultures. The Sudanese recipe called for pomegranate molasses, which I had never heard of and had no clue where to find. After many days of searching, I came across it at an Indian food store in Berkeley. (One of my favorite ways to spend a lazy afternoon is to browse the aisles of small ethnic food stores.)
After the photo shoot, I brought the molasses home and with little idea as to how I would use it, I relegated it to the back of my pantry to collect dust. Later in a pinch, I substituted it for maple syrup in a barbecue sauce. Everyone at dinner that night was thrilled by the new sweet and tart sauce I had just created purely by luck. Of course, I wasn’t letting on that it wasn’t planned, but we’ll keep that our little secret. Pomegranate molasses has now become a staple of my pantry, and I use it regularly in sauces and glazes for many of my pork and poultry dishes.
BARBEQUED POMEGRANATE CHICKEN
¼ cup pomegranate molasses
¼ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon pomegranate balsamic vinegar (plain balsamic can be substituted)
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dried lemongrass leaves
12 pieces bone-in chicken
In a bowl, combine molasses, ketchup, vinegar, and chipotle pepper. Stir well and set aside. Combine white pepper, salt, and lemongrass and sprinkle over chicken. Grill directly over a medium flame for 20 minutes. Turn over and grill for an additional 10 minutes. Baste with pomegranate sauce and cook an additional 5 minutes. Turn over, baste other side, and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy.