By Laman Ismayilova
Foodies have flocked to Goychay region to explore a mouthwatering taste of delicious pomegranate.
This unique and juicy holiday has been celebrated regularly in early November since 2006 in Goychay.
The two-day festival featured music performances, dances, a pomegranate exhibition, numerous competitions and gala concert. The festival's guests took part in a backgammon championship, a video and poetry contest and a culinary competition with cash prizes.
The 14th Pomegranate Festival was remembered for the delicious and original dishes made from different varieties of pomegranate.
Delicious pomegranate juice, wines, jams and baked pomegranate can strike the imagination of the most sophisticated gourmet.
The history of Azerbaijan is inseparably connected with cultivating pomegranates.
There are various sorts of pomegranate in Azerbaijan. Currently, about 200 varieties of pomegranate are cultivated here.The most famous among them are Veles, Shirin, Guleysha and Shikhbaba. These varieties differ in the thickness of peel and the size of grains.
This round red fruit is widely used in the country's national cuisine. Pomegranate sauce called narsharab is a real pride of Azerbaijani cuisine. "Narsharab" is translated as "pomegranate wine", but there is not a drop of alcohol in the sauce.
Narsharab is prepared from pre-pressed fresh pomegranate seeds. Pomegranate grains are poured over the fire and slowly boiled. A few hours later the liquid is removed from the heat.
Salt and spices such as pepper, coriander, bay leaf, cinnamon, and basil are added to enhance the taste.
There are many recipes of narsharab widely used in Azerbaijani cuisine. The best one is made from Goychay pomegranate variety.
Pomegranate, the country's national symbol has already received worldwide recognition. Last year, 180,000 tons of pomegranates were produced in Azerbaijan. The main export destinations this year were Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
The pomegranate contains hundreds of edible seeds called arils, which are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and bioactive plant compounds.
Pomegranate juice and peel are used in the treatment of up to 20 diseases. Moreover, pomegranate rind, as well as oil from its seeds are used in cosmetology, pharmaceutical production.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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