Muhammara is a Syrian dip (also common in Lebanese, Palestinian and Turkish cuisine) I first had at Golden Beetle. It was served with flatbread on an appetizer plate that included hummus and olives, too; my attention was squarely on the gorgeous terracotta-colored muhammara, trying to figure out what was in it. Even after eating the whole bowl I wasn’t sure, and subsequent research confirmed that I never would have guessed correctly– muhammara is a blend of roasted red peppers, walnuts and pomegranate molasses with a hint of pepper. It is creamy and slightly sweet and is slowly overtaking hummus on my list of favorite snacks. (I don’t actually have a list, but now plan to make one.) Serve muhammara with raw veggies (cauliflower is my favorite), flatbread, pita chips or similar.
Don’t be put off by the ingredient list, which includes a few not-so-common items. Pomegranate molasses is becoming more widely available in grocery stores; if yours doesn’t yet stock it, check a Middle Eastern market or online. The distinct flavor is key to this recipe and I’m not sure that there’s anything that substitutes properly; you can also use pomegranate molasses in jams, cocktails, vinaigrettes and a host of other recipes, so don’t be shy about purchasing a bottle. As for the Aleppo pepper, it’s another highly versatile spice I recommend purchasing (available at World Spice); in a pinch, you can substitute cayenne pepper. I do find cayenne to be significantly hotter than Aleppo, so start with half the amount and season to taste.
- 1 1/2 c. raw walnuts
- 1/2 c. soft (fresh) bread crumbs
- 1 12 oz. jar of roasted red peppers (Trader Joe’s fire-roasted peppers are great)
- 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste
- 1 1/2 T. pomegranate molasses
- 1 T. fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp. Aleppo pepper
- 1 tsp. salt
- flatbread, pita or fresh veggies to dip
In a food processor fitted with a metal chopping blade, pulse the walnuts until they are finely chopped. Add the bread crumbs and pulse to combine. Add the roasted peppers and olive oil and process until you have a smooth consistency. Add the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, Aleppo pepper and salt and pulse again to combine. Transfer the muhammara to a container, cover tightly and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Taste and adjust the seasoning; some folks prefer sweeter (add pomegranate molasses, 1 tsp. at a time), spicier (add Aleppo pepper a pinch at a time) or saltier. Muhammara will keep in the fridge for a week to 10 days.