Muhammara – Roasted red pepper dip for perfect mezze

A savory and aromatic veggie spread from the Mediterranean region made with roasted red peppers, spices, walnuts, aromatic herbs, and a topping of pomegranate molasses.
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My first experience of eating Muhammara was at “Pera Mediterranean Brasserie”, a highly rated restaurant in New york city. Being a vegetarian, I had few options to choose from at the restaurant. I will confess that I have been hooked to Muhammara since then and every time I visit a Mediterranean restaurant,  I look forward to eating Muhammara. 

Muhammara is an aromatic dip that stands out for its bright color and unique taste. The spicy-sweet-sour taste is perfectly balanced with the aroma of herbs and spices. The toasted walnuts add a nice crunch to the dip. Muhammara elevates any simple bread or vegetables or meats to a complete meal. This dip is great for parties as it is easy to share. Your vegetarian friends will love this dish and thank you for introducing a new dish.

Muhammara is a perfect mezze (also called meze) which means a selection of small dishes served as appetizers in parts of the Mediterranean and North Africa.  Muhammara is best served with pita bread or naans or as a spread for a roasted veggie sandwich. 

My recipe for Muhammara is based on traditional Syrian cuisine with some additional ingredients that will elevate the taste and aroma. I have used Fresh red peppers, Roma tomatoes, onions, garlic, walnuts, crushed red pepper (for extra heat), paprika ( for color, earthy taste, and mild heat), [Oregano, Basil and Parsley ( all 3 can be fresh herbs or dried form)], Pomegranate molasses ( I have explained how to make this from scratch in case you don’t find it in your nearby stores), 

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Muhammara – Roasted red pepper dip for perfect mezze

Difficulty: Intermediate Prep Time 15 min Cook Time 45 min Total Time 1 hr Servings: 5

Description

A savory and aromatic vegetarian spread/dip from the Mediterranean and North African region. Made with roasted red peppers, spices, walnuts, aromatic herbs, and a topping of pomegranate molasses, this dip has a perfect balance of taste, texture, and freshness. A great dish for parties and large groups, that can be prepared well in advance. All the veggies and nuts make this dish fiber-rich and healthy.

Ingredients

Basic Pomegranate Molasses ( To make from scratch)

Instructions

  1. Basic Pomegranate Molasses ( If you are not using store bought readymade one)

    •  In a medium saucepan, combine the Pomegranate Juice, lemon juice, and brown sugar.
    • Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium to maintain a simmer.
    • Cook, stirring occasionally until syrup has reduced by two-thirds, to about 3/4th  cup, about 45 minutes.
    • Remove from heat and let cool, then transfer to a lidded jar.
    • Molasses can be stored in the fridge for up to two months.

  2. Roast the veggies in an oven

    • Cut the red bell peppers into pieces so that they can be laid flat on the baking sheet - Remove all seeds
    • Cut the tomatoes in half and remove seeds. Lay them flat with the curved surface facing up.
    • Cut onion lengthwise into 5-6 parts
    • Halve the garlic cloves
    • Lay all vegetables flat on the baking sheet so that they don't overlap
    • Spread olive oil ( about half of the quantity in the ingredient list) uniformly so that the entire surface area of the veggies is covered
    • Bake in the oven at 400F for about 15 minutes (or until the skin of the vegetables start to turn dark)
    • Take the baking tray out of the oven and reverse the vegetables
    • Keep the tray back in the oven for another 10 minutes
    • Remove the tray from the oven and let the vegetables cool
    • When the vegetables have cooled, remove the skin from red bell peppers and tomatoes

  3. Grind all ingredients

    • Add all the roasted vegetables, spices and herbs (except Cilantro), some olive oil (¼ th quantity in the ingredient list), salt, and half of the pomegranate molasses to the food processor bowl
    • Add ¼ quantity of the walnuts. 
    • Pulse the food processor with the lid closed a few times
    • The mixture should be of uniform texture and all the ingredients must blend well. 
    • BE CAREFUL to not make this into a puree. We want the Muhammara to be coarse and thick. 
    • Transfer the blended mixture to a serving bowl

  4. To serve

    • Drizzle some olive oil on the Muhammara 
    • Sprinkle some chopped walnuts and cilantro 
    • Using a squeeze bottle or a spoon, slowly drizzle the pomegranate molasses on top
    • Enjoy the Muhammara with a side of freshly baked pita bread or naans or vegetables

Notes

  • You can refrigerate Muhammara in an airtight bottle or container for 2-3 weeks
  • The pomegranate molasses can be refrigerated for a couple of months weeks.
  • You can use pomegranate molasses for many other types of food preparation as a salad dressing or sandwich spread 
Keywords: Mezze, muhammara, mediterranean, spreads, dips, syrian, mhammara, Turkey, pomegranate, molasses,

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