Muhammara is a spicy Levantine dip made with peppers, stale bread, nuts and olive oil, and one of my go-to recipes so I don’t waste every time I have an old pepper to use. It’s often spiced with one of my favorite ingredients, Aleppo pepper, or pul baby as it is called in Turkey, which was traditionally grown in Syria and traded from Aleppo, which is on the famous Silk Road spice route. The dried chili flakes are a bright ruby red, sweet and salty, and are made from mild halaby peppers.
To prepare a chili with minimal waste, rather than cutting off the stem, push it into the chili, then cut the chili in half and remove the seeds and white pith. Cut up any edible flesh, then compost everything else.
Store whole peppers in the back of the refrigerator, or freeze them raw in slices or ice cubes.
Muhammara is like a spicy romesco sauce made from nuts rather than almonds. Like its Spanish counterpart, it goes wonderfully with new onions or barbecued calçots and all kinds of grilled meats, fish and vegetables. It also doubles as a wonderful bread dip. Once prepared, it will keep in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Preperation 10 minutes
to cook 15 min
Makes 300 grams
70g of broken walnut pieces
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large red pepper, stem, seeds and pith removed, finely diced
20g of stale bread, preferably complete, torn into small pieces
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper (AKA pul biber), or sweet pepper flakes
½ teaspoon of chili flakes
1½ teaspoon of paprika
2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar, or lemon juice
3 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses
To serve (optional)
Sumac, mint leaves, extra pomegranate molasses, flat bread
Toast the broken nut halves in a dry frying pan over medium heat for about five minutes, until they turn black and become aromatic. Set a few nuts aside and pour the rest into a food processor.
Put the extra virgin olive oil and the diced bell pepper in the hot pan and sauté for five minutes, until it begins to caramelize and soften; adjust the heat to prevent the oil from smoking.
Pour the peppers and oil into the food processor, add the stale bread, Aleppo pepper, hot pepper flakes, paprika, vinegar and pomegranate molasses, then add 50 to 100 ml of cold water to relax them. Pulse until a uniform consistency but still thick, then decant into a bowl and serve topped with the reserved nuts, a teaspoon of sumac, a few fresh mint leaves and additional pomegranate molasses.