Muhammara – a red pepper & walnut dip from Syria


Muhammara  - a red pepper & walnut dip from Syria

Muhammara – a red pepper & walnut dip from Syria

This is one of my favourite dips.  The combination of smoky red pepper, sweet/sour pomegranate molasses & the crunch of walnuts, bound together by the heat of chilli is divine.  It’s good as part of a meze, & also works well as a Levantine pesto with spaghetti.

Unfortunately, I’ve had to modify this recipe.  One of the normal ingredients is Aleppo pepper flakes, a medium hot & fruity pepper from the Syrian city of Aleppo.   Due to the ongoing War in Syria, with particularly heavy fighting around Aleppo, this pepper is almost impossible to find at the moment apart from via mail order.  Instead I’ve used Urfa pepper flakes & a bit of chilli powder to add some additional heat.

 

2 red peppers (around 350g in weight)

50g walnuts

1 medium garlic clove, chopped finely

1 tsp ground cumin

Juice of half a lemon

1 tbsp urfa pepper flakes

¼ tsp chilli powder

¼ tsp salt

2 tbsp olive oil

 

Pre heat oven to 190 °C / 170 °C fan / gas mark 5.  Once hot, put the walnuts on a baking tray & place in the oven for about 10 minutes to toast them – you want them to take on some colour, but keep an eye on them so that they don’t start to burn.

If you have a gas stove, you can roast the peppers in the same way as I did the aubergines in my baba ganoush recipe – just leave them over the flame until the skin is blackened.  When they’re roasted, put them in s bowl & cover with cling film – the steam that build up helps to loosen the skin whilst they become cool enough to handle.  After a few minutes, take out & using a small knife scrape the skin off (having a few blackened bits remaining is not a problem). Set to one side to cool fully & roughly chop.

In the bowl of a food processor, add all the ingredients except for 1/3 of the walnuts.  Pulse the ingredients to form a thick paste – you don’t need it totally smooth, so some small chunks remaining is fine – & tip into a serving bowl.  Finely chop the remainder of the walnuts (or just crush them into small chunks in a pestle & mortar) & stir through the dip, followed by a drizzle of olive oil.

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