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Pomegranate rice


This colourful rice dish from Afghanistan is from chef, author and TV presenter Peter Kuruvita’s latest cookbook in which he shares recipes “spiced with the flavours” of his life and travels.

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Lands of the Curry Leaf includes more than 100 vegetarian and vegan recipes that promise to take you on a journey through the subcontinent – from Bhutan, Nepal and Afghanistan to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kuruvita’s home country of Sri Lanka.

Yagut palau – Pomegranate rice

The Koran mentions the pomegranate as one of the fruits found in paradise, and medical research suggests it may help those wanting to extend their stay in this world. Rich in antioxidants, the pomegranate is promoted in the West as a defence against prostate cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.

We had a few pomegranate trees in our gardens in Sri Lanka, and whenever someone had a bruise, my aunties would quickly blanch the leaves to soften them, and then apply a bandage filled with the leaves to the bruise.

Quite apart from any medicinal benefits, pomegranates are great to eat, and are a stunning addition to this lovely dish.

Serves: 4
Preparation: 20 minutes + 2 hours soaking + 5 minutes standing
Cooking: 20 minutes


400g (2 cups) white or brown basmati rice
100ml virgin coconut oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
150 ml good-quality pomegranate juice (see tip)
150 ml coconut water, vegetable stock or water
2 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
1 teaspoon aleppo pepper
1 pomegranate, seeds separated, to garnish


Soak the rice in a bowl of water for 2 hours.

Heat the coconut oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium–high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes, or until softened and golden brown.

Add the rice, cumin seeds, cardamom and turmeric and stir to coat all the rice.

Stir in the pomegranate juice and coconut water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook, partially covered, for 15–18 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed.

Remove from the heat, cover the pan and leave to stand for 5 minutes.

Fluff the rice grains with a fork, then fold in the spring onion and aleppo pepper.

Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with the pomegranate seeds and serve.

Tip: You can make your own pomegranate juice by passing the seeds of 5–6 fresh pomegranates through a juicer.

Image and recipe from Lands of the Curry Leaf, by Peter Kuruvita, Murdoch Books, RRP $49.99, photography by Alan Benson.

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