I remember my first trip to a grocery store in the US: amazed with the variety and very confused about the size of the products… I have to say it was a very memorable experience for me. I always like going to the grocery stores that I am not familiar with, especially in different countries. But it is different when you have to get used to what they sell at the place you are going to live from that point on.
My first issue was with the tomatoes… or how big they were! I got over that pretty quickly since I love tomatoes but I had to do a lot of trials until I found my favorite ones. The second issue was green bell peppers! I am used to the small ones that we use for stuffing back in Turkey and there is no way I can find those small types here. The enormous size of the bell peppers did not and still has not made them look appetizing for me. I usually buy a green bell pepper only if I have to for specific recipes.
But red peppers…Oh my sweet red peppers!! They are a different story. I am so drawn to them…every time I see a shiny, meaty one, I have to put it in the bag. And I always have a big jar of roasted red peppers handy to make some appetizer or pasta dish. Or I roast whatever red pepper I can lay my hands on when it goes on sale.
So, I am not sure what took me so long to share this recipe with you. Because we eat this dip or spread, whichever way you make it, any time of the day…even for breakfast. Yes, a bit garlicky maybe for breakfast but a little bit garlic in the morning has not killed anyone yet! At least in my family!
Muhammara, according to the Turkish Cookbook, belongs to the Southern Anatolia part of Turkey. I lived in Istanbul, north-west of Turkey and we made this according to our taste, I believe.. read: not so spicy. I would assume there would be more heat and garlic maybe if I had the real thing in the Southern Anatolia which is famous with their spicy kebabs.
This dip is a concoction of roasted red bell peppers, ground walnuts, bread crumbs, olive oil, garlic,lemon juice, cumin, pomegranate molasses and crushed red pepper. Once you roast the peppers, or open a jar of them, all you have to do is to put everything in a food processor. You can start with the measurements I give below and then adjust according to your taste. You can increase the bread crumbs and/or walnuts to give it a thicker consistency. Whatever way you do it, you would not be disappointed. It is great on the bread, on pita, on grilled meat, over feta cheese, you name it… it will be good!
Muhammara – Turkish Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Yields approximately 1.5 cups
Preparation time: 15 minutes if using roasted peppers out of a jar
- 3-4 roasted red bell peppers
- 1/2 cup ground walnuts (measured after you ground them)
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 – 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (more or less depending on your heat index)
- 2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- If you are using fresh red peppers, roast them in a 350-degree oven until it is charred, put them in a ziplock bag and let it sweat. Peel and put it in the food processor. Process until it is finely chopped, almost pureed.
- Combine everything else in the food processor or in a bowl and process/stir until everything is very well blended. Adjust salt, black and red pepper to your taste.