This fiery pesto-like spiced walnut paste will set your taste
buds tingling. Putting some serious heat into Middle Eastern
mezze, muhammara is the dip you are not likely to forget.

Aleppo in northern Syria has been a bubbling cauldron of culinary influences through the centuries. Hot-yet-sweet Aleppo pepper has been a favoured spice of the city’s chefs since ancient times. Muhummara is widely acknowledged to have first been made within the city walls; the recipe then passed down by memory from cook to cook, spreading all across the Middle Eastern region, long before written recipes became commonplace.


You’ll need
3 red capsicums
¾ cup fresh, toasted
¾ cup ground walnuts
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and
2 tbs Aleppo pepper flakes
(available at Middle Eastern
and Turkish speciality stores
and sometimes called pul
3 tbs lemon juice
3 tbs pomegranate molasses
(available at Middle Eastern
and Turkish speciality stores)
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp cumin
Extra virgin olive oil for

Cooking Method
1 Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
2 Roast the capsicums on a tray in the top of the oven, turning occasionally, until the skin is blackened and blistered (approximately 40 minutes).
3 Remove from the oven, seal in a plastic bag and allow to cool.
4 Peel and seed the capsicums and place into a food processor along with the remaining ingredients. Blend the mixture to a paste.
5 Serve in a central bowl and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Tasting notes
A meze spread is Middle Eastern food at its most flavoursome, with the morsels of intermingling tastes shared and lingered over. The flashy bowl of potent-red muhummara makes its entrance beside the blander shades of dipping staples hummus and baba ganoush. With torn bread, scoop the muhummara straight from the bowl – the first taste is all sharp heat from the fresh or roasted red capsicum and the dried Aleppo pepper flakes (known as pul biber in Turkey), but the sting is tempered by the paste’s subtle fruity sour undertones from the pomegranate molasses and lemon juice. To complete the experience, make like a local and order a milky arak to see how this aniseed-flavoured liqueur complements muhummara’s intense bite.

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