Muhammara (Syrian Red Pepper and Walnut Dip)

October 25, 2014

muhammara-3The first time I tasted muhammara, I was at my in-laws’ house. My husband’s mother is Syrian, she grew up in Egypt when it was still beautiful and tolerant and modern. It was through P’s family that I was introduced to the flavours of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. It’s truly a unique culture and I’ve found similarities in their conception and appreciation of food  with the Asian food culture I grew up with in Malaysia. Hospitality wise, they’re the warmest of people you will ever meet…:)

Now, the muhammara is usually served as part of a mezze, which are small tapas-style plates usually served with alcohol. I think the preferred aperitif is Arak and it’s quite similar in taste, and effect, as absinthe. Muhammara is like the lesser known, but equally if-not-more-delicious, cousin of hummus and baba ghanouj. Made from a combination of olive oil, spices, roasted red peppers, walnuts, sometimes pine nuts and bread crumbs or bulgur wheat, it has multi-purpose applications. Everyone loves a good hummus but wait till you try muhammara. It’s slightly spicy, nutty and very tasty on top of pita breads, toasts, sandwiches, fresh vegetables, pasta…basically, you can put that <beep> on everything! Every household in the region makes this delicious concoction differently but it originates from Syria with the use Aleppo peppers.

Since Aleppo peppers are hard to come by outside of the Middle East, red bell peppers can be used together with other dried pepper varieties. In this recipe, I found that (surprise, surprise!) Korean chilli powder does the job wonderfully as a replacement for Aleppo pepper. It imparts a lovely bright red and smokiness to the dip. Now you know what to do with your extra chilli powder after making kimchi!

muhammara-1Muhammara (Syrian Red Pepper and Walnut Dip) Recipe

Method:

muhammara-4You can do this but adding all the ingredients in a food processor and it’ll taste fantastic. I like to mix each ingredient in separately because I have a personal preference for my muhammara to not look like a fine paste. I prefer it chunkier like chunky peanut butter, if you will. This is how I make my muhammara:

  1. Roast the bell peppers on open flame until charred all around. Take it off the flame and put it in a covered bowl to let it steam. After 15-20 minutes, peel them under a runny tap of water to remove the charred skin and seeds. Blitz them in a food process until it resembles a coarse puree, pour into mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. In the same food processor, blitz the walnuts until it resembles coffee grinds. Tip it into the bowl with red pepper puree.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and mix until everything looks well combined. Taste and adjust with more lemon juice, salt or pomegranate molasses.
  4. Let it sit for a bit before eating.

The muhammara will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days before the flavours start to decline. You can also freeze extras as it keeps well, I am not sure for how long but definitely longer than 2 weeks. In all honesty, I am also not sure if you’ll have extra muhammara to freeze because it’s a treat!

muhammara-2

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3 Comments
jimbo
February 4, 2015 @ 5:28 pm

tnx for the recipe! 5000 bits @changetip

Reply
    February 4, 2015 @ 5:28 pm

    jimbo just left a Bitcoin tip worth 5000 bits ($1.14).

    Reply
    February 15, 2015 @ 1:39 pm

    I hope you enjoy muhammara as much as we do in this household 🙂

    Reply

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