Muhammara (in Arabic literally means reddened) is a hot pepper dip originated from Aleppo, Syria and then found in many other places in Anatolia and Levant. Muhammara is an exceptionally fantastic dip or sauce which is red pepper walnut spread commonly known as Turkish walnut spread or Acuka.
Muhammara is usually made with fresh or dried pepper, ground walnuts, breadcrumbs and olive oil. It may also contain ingredients such as garlic, salt, lemon juice, pomegranate, and molasses and sometimes spices (e.g. cumin). Few also garnish it with fresh herbs like mint leaves which enhances the flavor of the dip. Muhammara is a spicy red pepper dip also referred as acuka in western Turkish cuisine while southeastern regions call it Muhammara.
Muhammara is easy and fast to cook which can be served either warm or cold. This dish is basically served as a spread over toast, or a sauce for kebabs, grilled meats and fish. This dip can also be served with toasted pita wedges or fresh veggies. Muhammara is one of the most popular meze dishes having one of the most distinct flavors. Originating from Aleppo, this dish is especially made from the unique type of pepper which is named after the place namely Aleppo pepper.
The main ingredient in Muhammara is sun dried pepper paste. The red pepper is finely chopped, salted and dried in the summer sun in large trays. Aleppo pepper also known as pul biber (flake pepper) in Turkish is a variety of capsicum annuum which is used as a spice particularly in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine.
Aleppo pepper is also known as Halaby pepper and starts as pods which ripen to a burgundy color and is then semi dried, de-seeded and then crushed or coarsely ground. Muhammara is extremely flexible dish, looks colorful, spicy and the texture of Muhammara is hummus like and can be used in various ways such as dip with pita chips, spread on crackers or flat bread, tossed in pasta etc.
The most common use is in the form of crushed flakes which is typically slightly milder and oily than the conventional crushed red peppers. Unlike crushed red pepper, the flakes contain no seeds, contributing to the mildness. Crushed Aleppo pepper can be used as a substitute for crushed red pepper or paprika. This spice is a common ingredient in some of the dishes that comprise a meze.
Meze basically is a compilation of small dishes served in Middle East or Mediterranean that is served during lunch or dinner as an appetizer. Some things that are typically served in a Meze are hummus, tabouleh, baba ganoush, olives and Muhammara.
To prepare this spicy and colorful Muhammara, firstly sauté the chopped onions gently in oil until soft and golden in color using a deep skillet. Add walnuts, breadcrumb puree, the pepper (chili or puree), cumin and salt to taste. Continue to sauté gently on low heat until the ingredients are well blended, nearly for about 12 minutes.
Remove from heat and place in a bowl and garnish with pine nuts. Serve muhammara accompanied with bread, kebabs, grilled fish etc. Muhammara is simple to cook with warm flavors of red peppers added to walnuts making it slightly sweet, spicy, savory and smooth. It is one of the main condiments in the Lebanese culinary gamut.
Do try this dish and for trying this simple recipe, click the below link for detailed recipe:
Fresh or dried chilies are extensively used in most of the cuisines. They are often dried to preserve them for long periods. Chilies may be dried using smoke, such as the chipotle, which is the smoked, dried form of the jalapeño. It is one of the most important spice or ingredient in almost all countries. Fresh or dried chilies are often used to make hot sauce, a bottled condiment to add spice to other dishes.
Hot sauces are found in many cuisines including harissa from the Middle East, chili oil from China (known as rāyu in Japan), and sriracha from Thailand. Red chilis contain high amounts of vitamin C and carotene (provitamin A). In addition, peppers are a good source of most B vitamins, and vitamin B6 in particular. They are very high in potassium, magnesium, and iron.