The Syrian American Jewish community wishes you a sweet Rosh Hashana. With Syria in the news, the Syrian Jewish Diaspora community wants Americans to know there are hundreds of thousands of Syrian Americans of Jewish ethnicity in the USA. See, Syrian Jews - The New York Times and Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews or Steve Sailer: iSteve: The Syrian Jews of Brooklyn and Whats Happening To Syria's Jews | Jewish and Israel News. Tonight is the first evening of Rosh Hashana, at sundown on September 4, 2013.
Back in the 1950s, our family's middle school consisted of a majority of Syrian Jews and Italian Americans, in a multi-ethnic mix of Greek Americans, Armenians, and Sicilians along with peoples from various places in the Caucasus. It was as if the Mediterranean and Black Sea areas met on Ocean Parkway, at least in terms of food, music, and customs. I'm talking about Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, near Avenue S, which in the 1950s was a center for Syrian Jewish life and foods, and the favorite food for various holidays was Syrian Pizza.
That's a flat bread dough spread with Syrian spices, olives, and various cheeses melted and topped with Greek condiments and other Eastern Mediterranean herbs and spices. The Syrian Jewish community was near the Greek Jewish community which was next to the Georgian Jewish community which was next to the Turkish Jewish community of immigrants from 19th century Izmir. The salad bowl and melting pot, were realized in the types of eateries, music, and bakeries.
What was shared on Rosh Hashana was knafa, which today is shared by Lebanese of any ethnic identity. So have a knafa for Rosh Hashanah. If there's a holiday for eating something sweet, something dipped in honey, for example an apple, or a Biblical-style honey cake, tonight is the time. This Rosh Hashanah recipe box focuses on eating food of the Mizrahi, Syrian Jews and those with similar food customs. You may want to taste the favorite foods of those who celebrate Rosh Hashanah whose tradition focuses on eating foods usually eaten by most peoples living in the Middle East.
The sweet treat is native to the Levant but eaten all around the Eastern Mediterranean and up into the Balkans. Every family may have a different recipe. So Jews from Aleppo may cook foods a little bit differently than Jews from Damascus. Check out, "A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes from Grandma Fritzie's." And see, "Syrian Jewish Recipes: Sephardic Recipes - Aromas of Aleppo."
Some of the Aleppo Syrian Jewish recipes or spices have Spanish, Arabic, and Italian names such as the Arabic spice mixture, Za'atar. And some of the Syrian Jewish people also have Spanish names. See, "Syrian and Sephardic Surnames | SephardicGenJourneys." Now for the foods and recipes. Check out some of the American Syrian Jewish Facebook pages or the Facebook Syrian Jewish American groups online. If anyone would know about Syrian Jewish cooking, it would have to be the various communities and what foods are consumed on holidays and at events.
Knafa cheese pastry instead of kasha knishes
For example, knafa, a cheese pastry consisting of soft cheese stuffed inside shredded filo dough is shared by Jews from Arabic-speaking lands with Lebanese and Palestinians. You'll also see below a recipe for a Biblical-style fruitcake or honey cake, and Persian-style foods (vegetarian) eaten on holidays such as Rosh Hashanah both by Jews and any other ethnic groups as well in the Middle East. So whatever your ethnicity, it's the season to try these sweet pastries.
What's a Mizrahi Rosh Hashanah like? Mizrahi refers to Jews who have lived in Middle Eastern countries and along the Silk Road, countries such as Syria, Egypt, Iraq, North Africa, and Iran (old Persia) for example and includes foods also familiar to the Sephardi community living in this area as well. You'd eat foods that would be similar to Middle Eastern foods in general, but you would not mix milk and meat dishes, would not eat pork products, no shellfish, for example, and would eat Kosher foods.
Each family might eat using its own recipes. So the recipes below speak only for a family's Rosh Hashanah foods, not for an entire community's foods. Mizrahi means "from the east." According to the Wikipedia site for the meaning of 'Mizraim,' the Hebrew word for Egypt is Mizraim. It's also a man's surname mentioned in Genesis 10.
According to Genesis 10, Mizraim (a son of Ham) was the younger brother of Cush and elder brother of Phut and Canaan, whose families together made up the Hamite branch of Noah's descendants. Mizraim's sons were Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, Casluhim (out of whom came Philistim), and Caphtorim, noted in Bullinger, 2000, p. 6. For more information, check out, The history of the Hebrew nation: from its origin to the present time, R.B. Seeley and W. Burnside, 1841. Misr also has a dual meaning of 'land.' And now on to the food and recipes.
Jewish and Lebanese-Palestinian-shared holiday foods can include home-made knafa pastries
This pastry is eaten with meals that don't feature meat dishes and is suitable for ovo-lacto vegetarian dishes that allow dairy products. You stuff shredded fillo dough with soft cheese of your choosing, but ricotta cheese is best and that's what's used most often by numerous peoples with ancestors from the Middle East. This can be ricotta or yogurt cheese or cream cheese or no-fat cream cheese, or any soft, creamy cheese you choose.
You bake the stuffed fillo dough until it's golden brown and pour honey diluted with a few drops of lemon juice over the top of the rolls of cheese-stuffed fillo dough a few minutes before the baking is finished. The dough should be slightly crispy and light golden brown, the cheese warm, and the honey used to sweeten the rolls of stuffed shredded fillo dough.
Palestinian-style Knafa is pronounced (kah-nay-feh) with the accent on 'nay'. Knafa is popular in the Palestinian city of Nablus in the modern-day West Bank, where it is filled with Nabulsi cheese and is called k'nafeh Nabulsiyyeh. It plays a central role in Palestinian cuisine and is the most famous throughout the Arab world. It's also eaten by Jews who are from many of the Balkan countries, including peoples whose ancestors lived in Greece and Turkey.
Each family may have a different recipe. So if your family has a different recipe for a different holiday, that's because many families have their own versions learned from their grandparents that may differ from the cookbook recipes or from your familiar style of cooking.
Generally, knafa is popular throughout Levantine cuisine among a variety of people and religions because it's a pastry stuffed with soft cheese. Among Jews who observe the no mixing of meat and cheese at one meal customs, the pastry is eaten when other dairy, vegetarian, or neutral foods are eaten.
Knafa is made by drizzling a row of thin streams of flour-and-water batter onto a turning hot plate, so they dry into long threads resembling shredded wheat. The threads are then collected into skeins. You can buy knafa dough in Sacramento at the various Mediterranean-style ethnic food markets.
It's also known as kataifi dough. If you go to the Mediterranean Market - Arden-Arcade - Sacramento, CA at 1547 Fulton Avenue in Sacramento, ask for khishneh (Arabic خشنه) "rough", consisting of kadaif pastry, which looks like long thin noodle threads. Knafeh dough comes in three types: na'ama (Arabic ناعمة) "fine", consisting of small pieces of semolina clustered together. Or you can use m'hayara (ِِArabic محيرة): which is a mixture of both khishneh and naa'ama.
For health and nutrition's sake, you can use extra virgin olive oil instead of butter. In some parts of the world where people use more butter than olive oil, the pastry is heated with some butter or other oil until warm and then spread with soft cheese and more pastry.
An easier way to make it is to roll the khishneh knafa around the cheese. You can warm raw, organic honey (don't feed raw honey to a baby under two years old). If you use honey, add six drops of fresh lemon juice. Mix, and pour over the pastry during the last five minutes of baking.
In some Middle Eastern countries where honey is not affordable, people make a thick syrup, consisting of sugar, water and a few drops of lemon juice. When the sugar is cooked to a syrupy consistency, it's then poured on the pastry during last five minutes of baking. But for nutrition's sake, use honey instead of table sugar for the syrup.
Many supermarkets in Sacramento sell shredded fillo dough as do the Greek and Mediterranean and well as the Middle Eastern food markets. In Sacramento, you can ask for shredded fillo dough at the Mediterranean Market. For a traditional recipe that uses butter instead of olive oil see, Knafeh Recipe - Food.com - 462609.
Also see the GrabNetworks video, "Making Traditional K'nafeh." Chef Amy Riolo shows you how to make a simple and delicious Middle Eastern style dessert. Check out also the Grab Networks video, "Baking and Finishing K'nafeh." For another video demonstration, also see the You Tube video, "Best Knafa recipe."
Knafa Recipe: One family's variety without using butter:
- 1 package of shredded fillo dough
- 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 lbs ricotta cheese or Mexican-style Requesón cheese, which is a loose, ricotta-like cheese used to fill enchiladas and to make cheese spreads, this variety is most often sold in the markets wrapped in fresh corn husks. A mild - not salty - ricotta can be substituted for requesón. What you're looking for is the cheese consistency of ricotta cheese. You also can ask in a Mediterranean-type food market what cheese they like best for filling the shredded fillo dough when making knafa rolls.
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 2 jars of raw, organic creamed honey
- 1 tsp lemon juice or
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water or
- 1 tablespoon edible rose petal extract water
- Defrost the frozen fillo dough. Shred it in a bowl.
- Once this occurs, brush with olive oil while shredding the dough. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Note that in some Middle Eastern households instead of olive oil, people use melted butter to brush over the dough. But in this recipe, you may wish to leave out the saturated dairy fat and use extra virgin olive oil instead.
- Grease a pan with oil (or butter) and spread out the dough thoroughly. Pat lightly, but don't press down on the dough. Pat the ricotta cheese into burger-size patties or balls and put them onto the prepared dough in the pan. Once the layer of ricotta cheese is completely covering the dough, put the second half of the dough unto the cheese and spread the cheese evenly.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then place the pan in the middle for about 45 minutes. What you need to look for, is that the dough turns brown and crisp, but not burnt and bitters. Now take a large pan and turn the Knafa over. You want to brown the top since baking only browns the bottom.
- You flip the rolls over to brown on the opposite side that's not browned. Bake again for enough time until the unbrowned side gets baked brown on top now that you flipped over the rolls. The Knafa is done when top and bottom sides are golden brown.
Rosh Hashanah Mizrahi foods and recipes: Fruitcake or honey cake is Biblical
Regardless of your faith or ethnicity, try these recipes and enjoy these traditional delights of the Silk Road, Persia, and N.W. Africa. You can be any ethnicity or religion to enjoy these foods for the Rosh Hashanah, which is the holiday celebrating the new year, which begins the harvest season, as it was in Biblical times.
Where do people in the Sacramento media go to check out the facts that fruit cake is Biblical in origin? You could look to the Bible. Does it mention cake made of fruit? Fruit cake and honey cake do date back to Biblical times and places by the fact that travel videos sometimes show petrified raisin and honey cakes found in ancient Pompeii or in Neolithic Jordan and elsewhere throughout the fertile crescent. The food represents plants found in the Eastern Mediterranean regions and across the Middle East and into Southwest Asia.
You made fruitcake in those times, say some of the oldest 'media' that reported culture, by simply mixing grain flour with dried fruit such as figs, dates, raisins, or apricots...and you added nuts such as almonds, walnuts, or pine nuts. Then you baked the grain and olive oil mixture with the fruit and a little milk or water. Maybe you ate it as a flat bread or cookie.
Archaeologists report that fruitcake is real old-fashioned, Biblical, and pre-Biblical, dating back to ancient Egypt and Sumeria. Fruitcake has been introduced by the diverse population living in ancient Egypt 4,000 years ago. The four main ingredients in ancient Egyptian/Levantine/Sumerian fruitcake are the following ingredients for the recipe: pomegranate seeds, raisins, pine nuts (pignola nuts) and barley.
The first trick is to figure out how to soften the pomegranate seeds--either by soaking or cooking--before they go into the cake so you won't break your teeth biting into the cake. Will the heat of the baking process soften the seeds? Or should they first be soaked in water until they're soft? And is all that woody pulp going to tear up your gut?
Maybe you should stick with pomegranate juice or concentrate and then add nuts and dried fruit. The pine nuts/pignola nuts will mix well with the barley and/or barley flour. Just don't make the cake too moist. Barley flour will dry the batter, absorbing some of the moisture, but cooked barley will keep the batter wet in the center.
That's where dried fruit, nuts, and bran can come in to absorb some of the moisture without making the cake too dry. Start with a cup of pomegranate seeds, golden raisins, pine nuts also known as pignola nuts (native to the Levant and Egypt) and barley.
The trick is to find a way to soften the woody pomegranate seeds so they don't break your teeth when you bite into the cake. Instead of the hard pomegranate seeds baked in a soft fruit cake, in modern times, to be on the safe side, use pomegranate juice or juice concentrate.
That way you'll take away the danger of someone breaking a tooth on a woody pomegranate seed. But be aware in ancient Egypt, fruit cake had only four ingredients--pomegranate seeds, raisins, pine nuts, and barley. To make the batter for the cake mix the following ingredients:
Biblical-style fruitcake instructions
1 c. olive or grape seed oil
1 c. creamy, organic, raw unfiltered honey, orange blossom or clover honey lends a fragrant scent1/2 cup orange blossom or rose petal extract water (from any Middle Eastern grocery or deli).
2 c. barley or garbanzo bean flour or mix barley and garbanzo bean flour with 1/3 cup flax seed meal. Or instead of flour you can mix oat bran, flaxseed meal, and raw wheat germ in equal amounts and use as is or mix with an equal amount of barley or garbanzo bean flour.
1 tsp. baking powder (Use the type of baking powder that is not made/processed with aluminum.)
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. pomegranate juice or concentrate
1 c. more flour
2 1/2 c. white raisins
2 c. cut up dates
2 c. mixed dried fruit such as dried figs, nectarines, prunes, or berries
1 c. pine nuts, pistachios, cashews, walnuts, or any combination of nuts, in medium-sized pieces.
Heat oven to 275 degrees. Line 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan with heavy parchment or wrapping paper. Mix olive or grapeseed oil, honey, eggs and dried fruit pieces. Beat with mixer 2 minutes. Sift 2 cups bean or barley flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder, and salt together and stir into oil.
Mix with pomegranate juice. Mix 1 cup flour into fruit and nuts. Pour batter over fruit; mix well. You can also add grated vegetables such as carrot or zucchini (optional) if desired, about a 1/2 cup, if you like the moister taste of grated vegetables in your cake.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Let stand 15 minutes before removing from pans. Do not remove paper. Wrap in foil. Store in cool place. Can be brushed with sweet cherry wine two or three times before serving.
You can substitute a mixture of flaxseed, oat bran, rye, barley and bean flours or even rice bran for wheat or other sprouted grains
Optional: Instead of all flour you can substitute a mixture of oat bran, rice bran, flaxseed meal in equal amounts with barley or bean flours. Rice bran will give a slightly bitter taste, though. But oat bran and flax seed meal will produce a more ancient-themed cake, linking back to a time when flour was ground to the consistency of meal.
Another option is to mix raw wheat germ, oat bran, and flax seed meal in equal amounts and use instead of flour or mix with the barley or garbanzo bean flour to bake a fruit cake with healthier ingredients--meal, instead of flour and raw wheat germ instead of the more highly-processed flour.
What about the usual fruitcake you get in the mail from friends or relatives? How many calories are in that modern fruitcake?
If you eat once slice of fruitcake, it might have 139 calories, but 34 of those calories usually come from fat. American-style fruitcake--the type you see at those fund-raising bake sales at holiday time, is a product of the Southeastern states. Claxton, Georgia advertises the town as "Fruitcake Capital of the World," according to the article, "Nutrition Quiz," by Sam McManis, Sacramento Bee, December 6, 2009. Also see the site, "Claxton, GA - Fruitcake Capital of the World."
Claxton is known as the "Fruitcake Capital of the World," a claim also made by Corsicana, Texas, according to the site, Claxton, GA - Fruitcake Capital of the World. The Claxton Fruitcake Co. used to offer free tours of their bakery, but insurance concerns ended that. You can still look in the front windows of the production area at seven huge fruitcake ovens in action. Claxton Fruit Cake was the only fruit cake exhibited at the New York World's Fair in 1964-6.
Rosh Hashanah Mizrahi-style feasts
Along the Silk Road, you'll find holiday vegan feasts for numerous ethnic groups in the Persian style from the Caucasus to Azerbaijan. When some of the Jews (called Mountain Jews of the high Caucasus) migrated from Persia in 700 BCE to settle in the Caucasus mountains, some of their traditional recipes focused on numerous vegetarian entrees for holidays in the Mizrahi style, which differs from the Ashkenazi style of holiday cooking. Remember that each family may have it's own recipes or styles of using similar ingredients.
Here are some Persian gluten-free vegan recipes for your holidays for any ethnic group, seasonal snacks and vegan meals or plant-based foods of the Silk Road. The idea is to serve a vegan or vegetarian entree for whatever seasonal holiday you celebrate.
Let's call this a Mizrahi version of Ashkenazi kugel. Without matzo meal, eggs, or potato starch, it's also favored among some of the Krymchaks of the Crimea, and it's also gluten-free. You can find the zatar and sumac spices in any Middle Eastern or Mediterranean-style grocery. (Looking for a paperback time-travel novel similar to this type of ambiance? Check out this novel set in the medieval Caucasus in the time-travel adventure novel, Adventures in my beloved, medieval Alania and beyond.)
Persian Variation of Kugel (served with pomegranate punch)
Serves a dozen people.
2 large onions, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
2 red bell peppers
4 shredded carrots
8 Idaho potatoes
4 tablespoons of ground, milled flax seed and 3 tablespoons of water
1/2 cup of shelled pistachio nuts, ground
A pinch each of the following spices and herbs: black pepper, thyme, celery seed, oregano, sumac, garlic, onion, turmeric, curry, cumin, parsley, saffron, and zatar.
Preheat oven to 375°F and grease a 9x13 pan or two 8-inch pans with sesame seed oil.
- Saute veggies (aside from potatoes) till limp and slightly colored.
- Grate potatoes.
- Add vegetables, pistachio nuts, ground, and ground flax seed with water to grated potatoes and mix well.
- Pour into prepared pan and bake 45-60 min or until light brown and crusty.
Garbanzo/Chick Pea Patties ( or fava bean tameya)
2 cups cooked or canned (drained and rinsed) chickpeas/garbanzos
1 clove of peeled garlic
1 tablespoon of tahini paste or ground sesame seeds to a paste consistency in a blender or food processor. You can blend chick peas with a little water or a little olive oil, grape seed oil, or sesame seed oil to form a paste consistency or use raw tahini paste/sauce. Or make your own tahini paste by liquefying sesame seeds to a paste consistency in your blender with some water, lemon juice, and/or oil.
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, celery seed, or any other spice you prefer
1/2 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon of honey (optional)
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of cumin
1/3 cup of chopped fresh dill or cilantro
2 cups of healthy oil for frying such as olive oil, Macademia nut oil, grapeseed oil, rice bran oil, or sesame seed oil.
1/2 cup of sesame seeds
2 tablespoons of ground, milled flax seed and 3 tablespoons of water
Garnish: chopped parsley, cilantro, basil, and mint or plain nonfat yogurt.
Matzo for eating with the patties. You can substitute cooked fava beans (tameya) for the chick peas. But if you're allergic to fava beans as many people are, use chick peas/garbanzo beans.
Combine all ingredients except the garnishes in your blender or food processor. Pulse until you have a soft patty. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight. In a deep wok, skillet, or frying pan, heat up a cup or two of oil over medium heat.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Spread the sesame seeds on a plate. Place a bowl of warm water next to your cooking area to wet your hands. Separate the dough into lumps the size of walnuts. Flatten each lump of dough in your palms into a patty the size of a burger.
Fry the patties for three minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Add more oil when necessary. You may have to use 2 cups of oil for all the dough. Each patty should be covered with oil. When light brown on each side, remove the patties and drain on paper towels.
Arrange each of the patties on a serving dish. Garnish with parsley, basil, mint, and serve with warm matzoh and yogurt or kefir. This is in the Silk Road tradition for holidays. If your Ashkenazi tradition forbids the use of chickpeas on certain holidays, save this recipe for Rosh Hashanah or Hanukkah.
In the Mizrahi tradition of the Mountain Jews, Azeri, and Persian styles, the brown rice served as a side dish with this vegan feast would be Persian saffron rice with chelow (golden crust). To make this saffron rice dish, cook 3 cups of washed, long-grain Basmati brown rice in 8 cups of water. Add 1 cup of nonfat plain yogurt to the cooked rice. Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of ground saffron threads in 2 tablespoons of hot water. Mix the saffron into the cooked rice.
If you want a crust on top of your rice, (the chelow) then whisk 3/4 cup of nonfat yogurt with 1/4 cup of oil, 1 tablespoon of saffron, 2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds with a little water, and a few tablespoons of the cooked rice and spread this on the bottom of a pan. Then put the rice on top of it and bake the rice until the rice and yogurt mixture on the bottom of the pan forms a crust.
If you're not making a vegan meal, two beaten eggs or egg whites can be mixed into the chelow/rice crust mixture before baking on the bottom of the pan. This forms a thicker golden crust. Add saffron and water mixture (dissolved saffron) to this crust mixture before baking.
Bake the rice until a golden crust forms on the bottom of the pan. Then turn the rice mixture upside down so that the golden crust is on top. Cut into squares. If you don't want a rice crust, substitute six layers of spinach or collards (stems removed) fitted into the bottom of the pan. But the rice crust is more aesthetic than the baked lettuce.
Variations include rice and cardamom (kermani polow with saffron and pistachios) in the Persian, Azeri, and Caucasus Mountains tradition. As condiments, you'd add a tablespoon of organic rose petals and a cup of fresh, chopped dill. Chopped almonds may be substituted for pistachio nuts.
Rice dishes in the Mizrahi and Persian traditions as well as the Azeri and some of the Caucasus Mountains and Krymchak traditions may also mix ice with 4 cardomom pods, crushed, and 1/4 teaspoon of saffron threads dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water to add to cooked rice. The rice can be cooked in vegetable stock. Use brown basmati long-grain rice because it has more nutrition than white rice.
Serve fresh fruit for dessert such as dark cherries and blueberries, strawberries, or apples baked in pomegranate juice. Mizrahi along the Silk Road traditionally eat carrot palov with cumin.
To make Silk Road Palov with Cumin, use short grain rice. In a nonstick pot or wok, heat a tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add a handful of almonds and currents (raisins and almonds are familiar to Ashkenazim). Stir fry the almonds and currents in the wok and set aside after draining off any oil on paper towels. But save the oil in the wok, skillet, or frying pan.
Add a pinch of cumin and cook for a few seconds, until you smell the perfumed aroma. Use a cover if the cumin seeds start to pop at at you. Add a handful of chopped onions and fry for 10 minutes or more until golden brown.
Add a cup of chopped or shredded carrots along with 1/2 seeded red bell pepper. You can also add a pinch of cayenne or chopped, seeded serrano chili.
Add two cups clean, washed, long-grain brown Basmati rice. Stir fry for a few minutes. Then add a pinch of turmeric and some water to cover the rice. You can substitute 1/2 teaspoon of saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water for the turmeric or use both.
Add 2 cups chopped fresh cilantro just as the rice is about to finish cooking. About 3 cups of water may be needed to soften the rice enough for cooking until chewy. Simmer the rice for 30 minutes. To keep the cilantro fresh and crisp add it only as the rice is done. Add to the cooked rice a handful each of chopped almonds, currents, and any other chopped green vegetable you prefer such as parsley or spinach along with the cilantro.
Serve with fresh sliced or chopped tomatoes and sliced cucumbers. If desired, add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves, and 2 pinches of ground cardamom. This variation also is known as Chahar Masala. Enjoy a Silk Road holiday feast in the Mizrahi style. The vegan-style feasts of the Silk Road are traditionally served with pomegranate punch.
Pomegranate Punch with Rose Petal Extract (Water)
To make Silk Road pomegranate punch, mix a quart of pomegranate juice with your favorite spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, and lemon-tasting tart sumac spice. For a slightly peppery zest, you can add a pinch of ginger.
Or serve a punch made of pomegranate juice and a teaspoon of chopped crystallized ginger topped with a pinch of almond meal. Also you can mix rose petal water with pomegranate juice, about 1/4 cup of rose petal extract to a quart of pomegranate juice.
The pomegranate juice also may be mixed half and half with dark red cherry juice topped with a sprig of mint. Or you can mix dark purple grape juice with pomegranate juice. Another version is to mix a quart of pomegranate juice with 1/4 cup of lime or lemon juice and float dehydrated nectarines on top.
If you're looking for Persian-style and Silk Road area recipes, try the book, Silk Road Cooking, A Vegetarian Journey, by Najmieh Batmanglij, 2004. (Mage Publishers, Washington, DC).This wonderfully illustrated cookbook is chock-full of vegetarian recipes in the Silk Road adventure style of cooking. Excellent for ovo-lacto vegetarians.
Try the stir-fried celery roots or the chickpea vegetable fritters, and the Armenian bulgur and pomegranate stuffed with grapevine leaves in this book of recipes. You mix lentils with bulgur wheat, pitted prunes, spices, mint, parsley, and pomegranate paste with lime juice and chili flakes in the sauce. It's on page 84, under the "salads" chapter. It's great. When you're allowed to eat fermented items again, try the yogurt and cucumber cold soup with walnuts and rose petals on page 100 of Batmanglij's book.