Turkey is known for many things and many kinds of wonderful foods that are typical of the Middle East and Balkan countries. They have baklava, various types of kabobs, and many wonderful teas and coffees. But a first time traveler there will be surprised to learn about a secret that is a pure joy on salads: pomegranate seed oil.
Pomegranates are a local fruit in Turkey especially during the fall harvest time. People are often treated to pomegranate tea, but some say that and the apple tea they charge extra for are just for tourists. Pomegranate seed oil can be found on the tables of many restaurants in Istanbul and other parts of Turkey. It is available in the small markets a tourist might visit while on a trip there. And most certainly, it is in the airport duty free shop on the way out of the country.
Pomegranate seed oil is a little confusing to learn about at first, since there is a lot of information about its use and curative effects on the skin, so it can be purchased as a beauty and message product. However, the same oil when packaged and purchased for consumption can be used internally, and is wonderful on salads. Other oils are like this as well, such as Argon oil from Morocco. Argon oil is also used for messages, the skin and scalp,and to put on various foods. So while the most amount of information is available on pomegranate oil as a beauty product, the oil used for salads is luscious and wonderful, tastes like balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil combined, yet with a wonderful touch of sweetness, and is extracted naturally from the fruit.
Pomegranate seeds are full of B vitamins, flavonoids and punicic acid, and many consider them to be anti-oxidants that also contain anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have been done on their properties and health value. While some of that information may or may not be true, what is true is the taste is wonderful. When combined with other healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil, a salad can literally be brought to life. People trying to watch their cholesterol intake need not worry when using pomegranate oil on salads, since it’s one of the healthy oils.
It takes a large amount of fresh pomegranates to produce the oil (between 200 and 500 pounds of the seeds to make one pound of the oil), so a number of recipes are available to help make nutritious oil in combination with other oils and fruits. The best way however, is just to purchase it in Turkey or even on Greece, since it is widely used in Greece as well. In the absence of a trip overseas however, pomegranate juice is a great substitute with the same healthy properties, and can be used for making many great recipes, as well as using fresh pomegranates themselves. Other recipes can be found here.
In any event foods are always a wonderful and welcome treat to purchase during a trip, so consider this next time a trip to Turkey beckons or just the desire for a nice meal at home with a taste of traditional Turkey.
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