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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Muhammara Recipe

In your cupboard or pantry do you have a bottle of pomegranate molasses? If not, why? I've already told you that it's a delicious ingredient to add to soups and sauces and the like. Do you need another recipe to convince you? Ok then.

Reason number 27 for buying pomegranate molasses: muhammara. Say it with me "mu-ha-mmara". It sounds sexy and exotic. I wish it was as beautiful to look at as it is to say but alas, it is not. Muhammara is an earthy terra cotta colored roasted red pepper dip that is complex and savory flavored with walnuts, cumin and garlic. Though originally from the southeastern part of Turkey it is also common in Lebanon, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries. The secret ingredient? Yup, pomegranate molasses. Just a tablespoon gives a rich tang to this dip.

This recipe is a no-brainer, the only technique involved is roasting red peppers and hitting "pulse" on your food processor. Because it gets better the next day it's perfect to make ahead and then have on hand for appetizers or to serve with other "mezze". Most delicious at room temperature, you can easily bring it to a potluck.



3 large roasted red peppers
1 cup walnuts
2 cloves garlic
1 cup bread crumbs, whole wheat or French bread
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
1 Tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon salt
red chili flakes to taste (a pinch or 1/2 t or so you could also use some fresh hot pepper if you like)


If you haven't roasted red peppers before, check out these instructions for how to prepare them. Lately I've been roasting my peppers in a cast iron skillet in a very hot oven. Reserve the liquid when you roast them as you will use it in this recipe

Begin by toasting the walnuts in a dry pan on top of the stove. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes shaking the pan so the nuts toast evenly. Let cool. Place the garlic and bread crumbs in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the red peppers and their juice along with the walnuts, cumin, pomegranate molasses and salt. Drizzle in the olive oil while the machine is running. Add as much chili flakes as you like. Let this mixture rest for a day if possible as the flavors will better combine and develop. Taste for seasoning and serve with sliced baguette, pita, pita chips, sesame crackers or crudite. You can also use it as a condiment for grilled meats, fish or kebabs.