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Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip

14 February 2014 / 09:02:47  GRReporter
1532 reads

Danielle Lachana

 

We continue our journey through the Eastern Mediterranean and arrive in Syria for today's dish known as 'Muhammara'. The name literally means 'reddened' which refers to its colour. Muhammara originated in Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, where traditionally it uses the hot and spicy Aleppo chili peppers, but it is also very popular in Lebanon and Palestine. Its particularity lies in the fact that it combines savoury, sweet and some spicy flavours and it is characterised by the slight sourness of pomegranate molasses. If you cannot find pomegranate molasses it is not hard to make a reasonable substitute (see method below), but you may like to add some extra lemon juice to the final dip.

Serve with crispy homemade pita bread (see next week's recipe from Lebanon!) or spread on some country bread. You could also serve the Muhammara as a tasty accompaniment to meat, burgers, fish or even french fries!

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RECIPE

(Serves 4-6)

 

METHOD

If making your own pomegranate molasses, please see below.

If making your own breadcrumbs, use either day-old bread or a thick slice of bread dried in the oven, crusts removed. Tear the bread into pieces then pulse in a food processor to obtain fine crumbs.

Blend the breadcrumbs to a puree with a little water.

Lightly toast the chopped walnuts on a baking tray in a moderate to moderately hot oven at 170o C (350o F,  Gas  mark 5) for about 5 to 10 minutes until just lightly browned and aromatic.

Roast the peppers whole on a foil-lined baking tray in the oven as above for the walnuts, or grill, turning frequently until the skin is lightly blackened (charred). If using fresh chile peppers you can roast these too but do not skin or puree them (although you can remove the seeds for a milder flavour).

 

In order to remove the skins more easily, put the charred peppers in a plastic bag with 1 tbsp water and close tightly. Leave for 10 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bag, peel off the skins and cut the peppers in half. Remove the seeds, white parts and stem and discard. Roughly chop the peppers then puree in the food processor.

Put the bread puree, chopped walnuts and pureed peppers together with the garlic in the food processor and pulse.  Add the pomegranate molasses or substitute, cumin, chile pepper, finely chopped if whole, or paprika, salt and lemon juice and turn on the processor. Slowly drizzle in the oil with the machine running until combined but still with some texture (like a grainy paste). Adjust seasoning.  Transfer to a bowl and leave to rest ½ hour before serving.

Serve in a bowl as a dip for pita breads,

 

 

or spread on country bread.

 

 For home-made pomegranate molasses

Ingredients:

½ litre 100% (pure) pomegranate juice - bottled or freshly squeezed

40 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice

40 g sugar

 

The above amount of ingredients will make about ½ cup. Remaining molasses can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for around 3 weeks and used also to flavour stews etc.

Method

Pour the pomegranate juice and lemon juice into a small saucepan and add the sugar.

Put over a medium heat, stirring, until the sauce starts to simmer gently and the sugar has dissolved.

Leave to simmer, gently, stirring every 10 minutes, for 1 to 1 ½ hours until the liquid has reduced by over a half to a light syrupy consistency (it should coat the back of a spoon and render just over ½ cup (about 150 ml).

Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Important! The molasses will thicken more upon cooling therefore do not over-thicken it or it may become hard later.

Tags: Muhammara Syrian dip Dips red pepper walnut pitas Mediterranean Middle East recipes
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