Muhammara (Middle Eastern dip with roasted red peppers and walnuts)

//Muhammara (Middle Eastern dip with roasted red peppers and walnuts)

Muhammara (Middle Eastern dip with roasted red peppers and walnuts)

What is muhammara? It’s a dip with a hummus-like texture that originated in Syria and is made primarily from blended roasted red peppers and toasted walnuts. But really, it’s much more than just your standard pita chip topping. Muhammara is a divine mixture of flavors which combines the perfect amount of smoky, sweet, spicy, and tart. The key secret ingredients include sweet pomegranate molasses and smoky smoked paprika.

The first time I tasted this we were sitting poolside at a beach resort trying to figure out what might be a good mid-afternoon snack. I spotted muhammara on the menu and decided to be adventurous by ordering something I had never even heard of. Needless to say, it was love at first bite.

My immediate mission was going to be trying recreate this delicacy as soon as we returned home.  Through trial and error, I finally came up with what I think is a near-perfect recipe. Many recipes used jarred rather than fresh roasted red peppers, but believe me, it’s worth roasting your own to get the the truly fresh, smoky sweet flavor from the pepper. Some recipes also used way too much pomegranate molasses which made the dish far too sweet and left the flavors unbalanced. I learned that less is more when it comes to the molasses! Depending on your taste preferences, you can adjust the amount of molasses, smoked paprika, lemon, and garlic…that’s part of the fun!

So get ready to wow your friends with this easy-to-prepare yet complex tasting delicacy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 red bell peppers (in a pinch, you can use jarred roasted red peppers, but the flavor and texture will be greatly enhanced if you roast your own)
  • 3/4-1 cup walnuts, toasted (I use raw unsalted walnuts, usually closer to 1 cup if the red peppers are large)
  • 1-2 clove garlic, roughly chopped (add 2 if you enjoy the bite of garlic)
  • juice of 1/2-1 lemon (depending on size and flavor preference)
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs (or substitute other bread crumbs)
  • 1 tsp pomegranate molasses (this can be purchased in a Middle Eastern grocery store or on Amazon. I’ve read that you can also just reduce pomegranate juice in a saucepan on the stove but have not tried this)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (in the dried spice section of the grocery store)
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or more if you like things spicy)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

Instructions:

Place a rack at the top of your oven and preheat your broiler. Cut peppers in half and remove stems and seeds. Line a baking sheet with tin foil lightly brushed with olive oil (or use nonstick foil) and place peppers on it, skin side up.

Broil peppers until skins are charred. This will vary greatly based on your broiler, but usually takes about 15 minutes. I usually rotate pans every 5 minutes or so to ensure even cooking.

Once skins are mostly charred, remove baking sheet from oven and wrap peppers tightly in foil (basically to seal in steam and allow them to cook further).  Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes.

Once peppers are slightly cooled, peel off and discard the charred black skins. It’s OK if some bits of skin still cling to the pepper.

Add roasted peeled pepper halves to the bowl of a food processor or high-speed blender along with all ingredients except for olive oil. Blend to combine, streaming in the olive oil. You can blend for less time to leave the dip a bit chunky, or puree for longer until completely smooth.

Scrape into a serving bowl. Serve with pita or lettuce leaves or use as a spread on sandwiches, etc. Enjoy!

2018-09-04T00:20:18+00:00