Muhammara in Arabic means “reddened,” so we thought this dip perfect with Valentine’s Day approaching. The base of muhammara is roasted red pepper and walnut — from there you can play with layering flavors, from the deep, rich and spicy array of chile pepper, paprika, and cayenne, to the punchy sour flavor of pomegranate molasses.
At Hipcooks, we adore pomegranate molasses. We use it in our Persian Immersion class, in Khoresht-e-fesenjan, a magical Iranian pomegranate and walnut stew. We also use it in a port and red wine reduction sauce for grilled pork in Thrill of the Grill. It pairs beautifully with mint, hazelnut, and parsley tabbouleh. Find pomegranate molasses in the next Hipcooks Cookbook, splashed into some bubbly for a Pomegranate Bellini.
Make muhammara in a jiffy, using roasted red peppers from a jar. Normally, we eschew these, preferring the sweet taste of home-roasted peppers. (These take time to roast, then steam, peel and deseed.) For this recipe, the more acid and slightly briny jarred roasted red peppers are perfect! All you have to do is pop open the jar, drain the liquid, and plop the peppers in the food processor. Easy peasy.
We make our muhammara gluten-free. Traditional recipes use breadcrumbs. Instead, toast the walnuts for maximum flavor and then add to the food processor. Blend to a paste with the peppers. You’ll get a dreamy consistency, packed with flavor (and protein and healthy fat from the nuts), and be gluten-free besides.
When you make a savory dip like this, do you serve with the standard flatbread or pita chips? We like to mix it up. Muhammara tastes delicious with shishito peppers and with radicchio, the torn leaves used as a scoop. The color palette is rather nice, we think!
Check out the other dips and spreads on our blog. If you’d like to make a trip of dips, what about Muhammara paired with our Olive Tapenade and our Hummus? The colors and flavors of this triad would complement one another beautifully.
2 cloves garlic, peeled
a 7-ounce jar roasted red peppers
2 cups walnut halves
a generous swirl (about 3 tablespoons) olive oil
a generous swirl (about 3 tablespoons) pomegranate molasses
a sprinkle (about ½ teaspoon) cayenne
a sprinkle (about ½ teaspoon) paprika
a sprinkle (about ½ teaspoon) pimentón de la vera
a sprinkle (about ½ teaspoon) salt
the juice of a lemon
to garnish: chopped toasted walnuts, zaatar (or use sumac) and thyme
Process the garlic in a food processor, giving a few quick pulses to chop. Add the red peppers and whizz until smooth.
In a wide skillet over high heat, dry-toast the walnuts until toasty and fragrant. Set some aside to chop for garnish, and add the rest to the food processor. Whizz to a smooth paste. Add the olive oil as necessary, to loosen the texture. Add the pomegranate molasses, spices and salt to taste. If you've gone too spicy, a squeeze of lemon will save you.
Garnish with a little more olive oil and a mixture of the reserved chopped walnuts, zaatar, and thyme leaves. It also goes very well with mint.