Saturday, October 4, 2008

Muhammara (Red Pepper/Walnut Dip)

This week, I tried a second recipe from The Language of Baklava: muhammara.

Muhammara is a dip that originated in Syria, but is now eaten across the Middle East. While there seem to be a number of different versions of the dish, the central ingredients are the same: red peppers, walnuts and pomegranate.

Diana Abu-Jabar's recipe for muhamarra involves roasted red pepper, walnuts, puréed tomato, bread crumbs, red pepper flakes and spices, as well as pomegranate juice and olive oil. The instructions are incredibly simple: assemble the ingredients, and purée.

I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about the dip the night that I assembled it. Something about the lighting in my kitchen made the puréed mixture look bright pink, and suspiciously similar to ham salad.

However, when I pulled the dip out of the refrigerator the next day, I could see that, rather than being pink, the mixture has more of a burnt orange color. And, of course, it tasted nothing like ham salad. The flavor is hard to describe, but it has elements of sweet, spicy and hot, and is pleasant to eat atop crispy bits of toasted pita. Since there's no dairy, and the dip doesn't really need to be refrigerated, it would be a nice lunch to pack for a hike.

The recipe from Language of Baklava called for the dip to be topped with chopped flat leaf parsley. I didn't have any parsley on hand, so I used chopped cilantro, and threw on a few walnut bits as well. The cilantro blended nicely with the spicy/sweetness of the dip, making this a goof that I might intentionally repeat.

While I was putting together this post, I took a look at other recipes for muhammara on the internet. Many of them use pomegranate molasses, rather than pomegranate juice. I plan to try that variation in the future, just to see what sort of difference the molasses might make. (While I love pomegranates, I didn't really enjoy the leftover pomegranate juice -- I'm thinking that I might have more uses for pomegranate molasses.)


Kitt said...

Funny! I thought that was steak tartare at first, which I wasn't expecting from you.

I'll have to try that. I even have pomegranate molasses that I've never opened.

Beatrice said...

It's actually not only vegetarian but vegan, yet something about the texture and color does make it look meat-like, doesn't it?

Steak tatare sounds even less appetizing to me than ham salad (no offense to the carnies who visit this site).

I am curious to hear how it turns out with the pomegranate molasses!


Jesse said...

It looks like we love all of the same food - this is another favorite of mine. I too use pomegranate molasses. I've never tried it with pomegranate juice - interesting. I'll definitely try that. Pomegranate molasses is so wonderful though, you'll end up putting it on everything.

Beatrice said...

Hi, Jesse. I'm not sure that the juice will be an improvement over the molasses, but would like to hear your thoughts.

Since you live in Austin, do you ever visit the Tea Embassy (9th and Rio Grande)? That was a favorite of mine during my time in Texas. Awesome almond cookie green tea...

Thanks for visiting,


Dana Treat said...

I just made this dip last week but, curiously, it didn't have red peppers in it. Just walnuts, toasted pita (both ground and in small chunks), herbs and spices, pomegranate molasses and olive oil. It was delicious but a kind of dull beige color. I'll try this one next time!

Summer said...

I think that using pomegranate molasses gives the dish a more pungent taste, much more different than using pomegranate juice.i love Muhammara, some recipes call for using Bulgar ( cracked wheat ) as an additional ingredients. i am going to try your recipe soon.
thanks for sharing.