muhammara

bell pepper

For the last six months or so there has been a recipe (a clipping from Bon Appetit or some such publication) stuck to the refrigerator with a magnet. I guess I somehow thought that if it was out in plain sight I would actually make it – sort of a triumph of optimism over experience. Turns out that staring at something every day doesn’t necessarily inspire you to do something about it…

muhammara

I did make it, finally, for a middle-eastern themed dinner party we gave recently. Sort of a miracle, really. The recipe was for muhammara, a Syrian puree of roasted red peppers, walnuts and pomegranate molasses, and it seemed so completely up my alley that I can’t believe how long I waited to try it. I’m usually such a sucker for anything with pomegranate molasses. As it turned out, though, I decided not to use the clipping, which called for jarred peppers and panko crumbs. I went with a recipe from Cooking with Amy instead, just tweaking it slightly. Like many dips, this is a very forgiving recipe, so you could adjust it however you wanted.

By the way, this is how I usually roast peppers. I know you get a better flavor by holding them over an open flame and blistering them black, but it’s simpler and more hands-off to cut them in half and put them in a hot oven until the skin blisters. It loses a little of the juice, but you get a more even application of heat. Then it’s easy to rub the skin off.

peppers

roasted peppers

roasted peppers

The only real issue I had making the muhammara was that I was rapidly running out of olive oil (we were using it in everything), so I went a little sparing on it, leading to a dip a bit thicker in texture than I would have liked. Also, I used two red peppers and one orange, which looked beautiful at the market but produced a slightly drab-colored blend – all red is definitely the way to go.

walnuts

toasting walnuts

For our dinner party I put this dip out with a bowl of blue corn chips, some toasted pita wedges and a bowl of semolina crackers from the Breadfarm. The slightly sweet, crispy crackers were the winner with the muhammara. Thin baguette slices would also be lovely, I think.

I also found a great-sounding idea in Greg Malouf’s book on Lebanese and Syrian cooking, Saha – it calls for stirring together muhammara and labneh (yogurt cheese). I’ll have to make myself a note to try that sometime, I might get around to it in the next year…

Muhammara

  • 3 red bell peppers
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • hefty pinch red chile flakes, or a fresh hot red chile, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Roast the peppers and peel them, saving the juices. Lightly toast the walnuts in a skillet and let them cool.

Combine everything but the oil in a food processor. Once it’s blended to a paste, keep the motor running and add the oil in a thin stream. Scrape into a bowl and serve.

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4 thoughts on “muhammara

  1. I’ve had a different recipe for this bookmarked forever (marked in an actual book, that is). Like you, I can’t believe I haven’t made it yet! But soon… yours looks awesome.

  2. I found your lovely blog through your recent comment on the “Comments” post in FB Alliance… so of course I’m all fired up to comment! (I, too, have been a lazy blog consumer) Anyway, I adore Middle Eastern cooking and pomegranate syrup anything, so this recipe immediately caught me. Thanks, too, for the Saha reminder, it’s been on my reading list for years. Your blog is beautiful.

    1. Dana, thanks so much for stopping by. Saha is a wonderful book, I’ve barely begun to make a dent in it. We’ve done a little more out of his books Turquoise and Artichoke to Za’atar – they’re just all so beautiful!

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