Today, I have for you a roasted red pepper dip that is going to become the Queen of dips in your household (the King has GOT to be hummus!). Combined with walnuts, breadcrumbs, pomegranate molasses and chilli flakes, Muhammara is a Middle Eastern dip that satisfies all flavour profiles – from sweet to sour to spicy.
Watch how to make Muhammara at the end of post
The origins of Muhammara are said to be in Aleppo, Syria. Aleppo has been in the news for a long while now due to its devastation through war, but before destruction struck, Aleppo was a thriving place of culture and food. Aleppo peppers are distinctively used in this dip, along with roasted red bell peppers, pomegranate molasses, breadcrumbs, walnuts, olive oil and spices.
Much to our fascination and glee, food travels across borders. And Muhammara is no different. This dip is popular across the Levantine and also Turkey. You can check out my Ktaifi Karides with Muhammara guest post on The Schizo Chef to see how Turkish cuisine has adapted this dip to deliver a classy appetiser.
You may use roasted red bell peppers from a jar or make them from scratch. I made them from scratch because it’s so easy to do, there really is nothing to eat. Cut peppers (they have to be red!) in half, remove seeds, place face down on a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, roast in oven, peel and slice. That’s it! You may now add Roasted Red Bell Pepper Expert in your repertoire.
I love shopping from the “Imperfect Picks/Odd Bunch” sections at Harris Farms and Woolworths. Absolutely fine looking produce at slashed prices helps with budget and you feel good about doing a tiny part in reducing food waste.
I mean just look at these red capsicums, other than a few blemishes, does anything look WRONG with them?! Superficiality with human’s appearances is one thing but we don’t seem to spare produce either! Has anyone watched the “War on Waste” docco on SBS? It was such an eye opener (and heart breaking). I urge you to buy from this section whenever you can – especially for produce like potatoes, tomatoes, citrus, capsicum and apples.
Ok, rant over and back to the recipe…I did not have access to Aleppo peppers, so I substituted with regular chilli flakes. You’ve got to tone down the heat by using only a fraction of chilli flakes. The chili flakes I used were quite potent! So be careful, chipmunks! I also used panko breadcrumbs because that is what I had at home, and I also prefer the airy crunch of panko to regular breadcrumbs. You may also opt to use 1 slice of stale bread as I assume that is how it is traditionally done.
Pomegranate molasses is a MUST in this recipe and I recommend you grab it from a Middle Eastern, Turkish or Persian grocery store. Pomegranate juice is reduced to provide a luxuriant, sticky, sweet and tangy syrup that adds depths of flavour to stews, meat and in this case, dip. You may also use it as a substitute for balsamic glaze. I always have a bottle of pomegranate molasses in my pantry.
When searching for Muhammara recipes from experts, I came across Ottolenghi’s Muhammara. He advocates using a pestle and mortar to grind the dip to leave sufficient texture in the dip as opposed to using a food processor. I haven’t got the patience (or the strength) to make this dip using the primitive tools suggested so I blended everything in a food processor for a maximum of 25 seconds to ensure the dip is not grounded to a pulp. But if that is how you prefer it, feel free to blend 10 seconds longer!
Most recipes have the same batch of ingredients in varying amounts, this is my take on it. Do try it and let me know if you think this deserves to be crowned the Queen of dips in a comment below!
Muhammara is a delicious red bell pepper dip originating in Syria. Enriched with walnuts, breadcrumbs, pomegranate molasses, olive oil and chili flakes, it is a crowd pleaser! Enjoy with pita bread, veggie sticks or with prawns.
- 2 red capsicum (red bell pepper), sliced in half, seeds removed
- 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp aleppo chilli flakes (or 1/4 tsp regular chili flakes)
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- pinch sumac
Place halved capsicum face down on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 30-35 minutes until charred.
Remove and cool before peeling skin. Slice.
Add all ingredients to food processor and blend around 20 seconds. Serve.
- You may use jarred red bell peppers instead equivalent to approximately 300g.
- Use regular red chilli flakes if you don't have or can't find aleppo chilli flakes, as I did.
- Blend 20 seconds if you prefer a slightly chunky dip, or 10 seconds longer for a smooth dip.
- Serve with pita bread, veggie sticks or as a bedding for ktaifi karides.
Watch how to make Muhammara