Dibs el roummane
Dibs el roummane (or rummane or roumman) – pomegranate molasses – is in fact a very concentrated sour juice used to flavour stews and other meat dishes as well as Lebanese mezze such as kibbeh, sambousik, and sfiha. It is acidic and may replace lemon and vinegar in salad dessings, as in the typical Lebanese bread salad, fattoush. Roummane is the fruit of the roummane tree (Punica granatum L.) which is native to the Middle East, and is strongly associated with ancient religions and cultures. In the ruins of Ba’albak in the Biqa’ plain of Lebanon, specifically the temple of Jupiter, the ceilings and capitals are adorned with carvings of olives, almonds, chestnuts, pecans, grapes, figs and pomegranates, reflecting their presence in this region for a period of over 2,000 years (Feghali, 2002).
Pomegranates were among the main symbols of Aphrodite, the greek goddess of love. Pomegranate juice has an age-old reputation for boosting fertility and sex-drive, and was prescribed locally in villages as a remedy for infertility (Owen, 1949).
Historically, pomegranate molasses was produced in the mountainous regions of the Middle East, where the cool climate was unfavourable to citrus trees, but where pomegranate (roummane) thrived. The pomegranate was traditionally picked after the Celebrations of the Cross around 17th of September of after the Eastern Cross, a celebration falling on the 27th of September (al Ghazi, 2001). The picking of the pomegranates is not part of the religious festivities but traditionally farmers set their harvest by the date of these celebrations.
There is very little literature regarding the different types of pomegranates, and they all fall under the general name Punica granatum L. different local varieties are found in different Middle Eastern countries. Ahmar, aswad, and halwa varieties are important in Iraq; mangulati is found in Saudi arabia; and malissi and ras el baghl are favoured in Lebanon and Syria (Morton, 1987). They vary in acidity with some varieties being much sweeter than others. Pomegranate molasses is prepared from the sour varieties of pomegranate fruit.