Iraqi Pomegranate Stew (Shorbat Rumman)
I will admit that when I mentioned my pee turns red after consuming red beets, I thought I was in the majority.
When asking someone about their bloody urine as a doctor, the first thing is to rule out causes that are not bloody (like eating beets).
It happens to me on occasion (red urine from beets) and as such, I thought it was pretty common.
Then I decided to do a very quick literature search.
Not that I delved into the primary studies, but apparently beeturia (what you call red urine from beets) is only present in 10-15% of people. It is caused by the increased absorption and then excretion of betalaine, the reddish pigment found in red beets.
Delving into its chemistry, it turns out that because betalaine will be protected by reducing agents like oxalates, consuming foods high in oxalates like spinach and rhubarb will enhance beeturia. Furthermore, it is decolorized by ferric ions, colonic bacteria and stomach acids (hydrochloric acid). As such, if you don’t consume enough iron, you may get beeturia. Same thing if your stomach acid is out of whack, say from pernicious anemia.
Anyways, I thought 10-15% of people was pretty low. I decided to do an informal poll. Beeturia sufferers=4. No beeturia=2. Do not consume beets=4. Both of my no beeturia friends mentioned they get red poo, though (although I didn’t ask my other friends).
I kind of want to do a scientific study, actually. Give a specific amount of beets to a bunch of people and ask them for their urine to see if it is red (hmm, maybe I would need a pre-beet control urine sample, too). It sounds gross, I know, but my curiosity is piqued.
Not everyone enjoys beets, but let me share with you yet another great beet recipe. I am totally biased, since I love all colour of beets, in many different forms. But really, this is a great soup. And it isn’t borscht.
I originally spotted this Iraqi Pomegranate Stew on Julia’s blog. I am always thrilled to find new ways to add pomegranate molasses to my meals, and I was tickled pink when I saw it had many of my other favourite ingredients- beets, spinach, split peas, lime juice, cinnamon, cilantro and even mint! (Aside, can you see how different my tastes are from Rob’s coconut-tamarind-chile love trifecta? Although I love tamarind, too).
The flavours of stew combine the salty, sweet, and savoury perfectly. It helped that I followed Julia’s recommendation of adding more split peas and rice, and removing the sugar altogether. The pomegranate molasses gives this a nice sweet tang all by its lonesome.
This also produces a glorious red soup, speckled with the green spinach and herbs. What better way to say you love someone, then by making them a gloriously delicious healthy red soup. Except, it might make you pee red, too.
So tell me, if you dare, do you get beeturia?
This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, to this week’s Wellness Weekend, to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Vanessa and to My Kitchen, My World for Iraq.
Iraqi Pomegranate Stew (Shorbat Rumman)
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup dry split peas (I used yellow split peas)
4 cups vegetable stock
2 small red beets, peeled and diced
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup scallions, sliced
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice (half a lime)
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1/2 bunch spinach, chopped (150g prepped)
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
salt, to taste
1/2 tbsp dried mint
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp white pepper
1. Saute onions in a large sauce pan. Add split peas, stir, then add stock and simmer one hour.
2. Add beets and rice, cook 30 minutes more.
3. Add scallions, lime juice, pomegranate molasses, a pinch of salt, and parsley. Simmer 15 more minutes.
4. Bring to a boil and add spinach. Turn off heat, cover and let wilt few more minutes.
5. Meanwhile, mix together the dried mint, cinnamon and white pepper. Set aside.
6. Stir in cilantro, adjust seasonings to taste, then serve, garnishing with the dried mint mixture.