Before our trip to Turkey we bought a Turkish Cookbook (not vegan but we can modify). Turkey’s cuisine is not known for it’s vegan friendly dishes but this was one we picked out and decided to try at Christmas. The recipe is a combination of the recipe from our cookbook and a recipe from Vegan Peace.
Muhammara is a hot pepper dip originally from Aleppo, Syria and now found in many places in Anatolia and the Levant. The principal ingredients are usually fresh or dried peppers, ground walnuts, breadcrumbs, and olive oil. It may also contain garlic, salt, lemon juice, pomegranate syrup, and sometimes spices (e.g. cumin). It may be garnished with mint leaves and eaten as a dip with bread or a spread for toast. Muhammara is referred to as Acuka in western Turkey while south-eastern regions call it Muhammara.
This recipe has an essential Middle Eastern ingredient, Pomegranate molasses , in it which can be found at good health food stores. It has a wonderful flavour and heady aroma, and keeps in the refrigerator after opening almost indefinitely.The uses for this thick, tangy, piquant syrup are many. It blends well with walnuts, adds a tart and pungent flavour to beans and other savoury dishes, and gives an astringent edge to salads and vegetables. It is delicious in glazes and marinades and it can even be diluted and used for sharp drinks and tart sorbets. This should not be confused with grenadine syrup, which is made from the same base but has other flavourings added. It makes all the difference in this spread. I have had other Muhammara's without this syrup and it wasn't as good.
This spread is addictive!
- 2 large sweet red peppers
- 1 tbsp water
- 175g walnuts (or pecans or hazelnuts)
- 1-2 cloves crushed garlic
- 2-3 pieces stale bread slices crumbed
- 125mls extra-virgin olive oil
- 1.5 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- salt and black pepper
Put the peppers in on a baking sheet and grill until the skins are charred and blistered. Put them in a bowl, cover with crumpled kitchen paper and leave for 10 minutes. Peel, stem and seed them, then chop coarsely.
Using a mortar and pestle, pound the walnuts, cumin seeds, chilli flakes and garlic (you could use a food processor but the oils released by the walnuts by smashing them adds to the flavour).
Add the capsicums and bread crumbs and pound to a paste then beat in the pomegranate molasses, sugar and tomato paste.
Slowly beat in the oil to make a nice thick and light paste.
Place everything in the food processor and process until quite smooth.
I did this – I got lazy after 6 hours in the kitchen. I blended the walnuts and bread first. Then I added everything else.
Spoon in to a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Let stand several hours before serving. If chilled, bring to room temperature before serving.
Serve with flatbread or sesame crackers, etc.