A dip can make or break a party don’t you think? If you have an inventive and super delicious dip, it turns into a conversation starter, and a magnet of togetherness, bringing people to a table like bees to honey. If you serve a bad dip it can be a total let down, with disappointing glances of people wondering what else to do with those dry crackers and chips. While a lot of the dips that I have featured on my channel are quite popular, my Muhammara recipe is certainly the most viral, because once you try it you can’t go back to store bought dips. So when NBC asked me which recipe I would like to share for the holidays, I thought no doubt, it has to be Muhammara:
And just to let you know if you live in California, I will be on again this Monday December 6th between 11:00 and 12:00 Pacific time on NBC talking about all things winter squash, so you don’t want to miss it!
As for the muhammara, this dip originated in Syria, and is mildly sweet, smoky, tangy, nutty, and savory–the umami of all dips. The word Muhammara in Arabic means to “make red” as the many of the red ingredients include red bell peppers, pomegranate molasses, paprika, tomato paste, and even cayenne pepper. Traditionally Syrians use the Aleppo pepper, which is hard to find, but you can use regular red peppers with a similar outcome. This dip is popular throughout the Levant and even in Turkey, where it is called “acuka.”
While roasted fresh red peppers enhance the flavor, I use store bought roasted peppers in the jar for a shortcut–the flavor is just as delicious and you save lots of time and mess in the kitchen especially during this busy time of year! While many middle eastern dips use beans or dairy in the base, this one is vegan, using crunchy walnuts that add a nutty flavor and texture. So this dip is easier on digestion to those sensitive to beans.
To check out my appearance on NBC, click on the video below:
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs (any kind will do, from panko to regular breadcrumbs)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 Tbs. tomato paste
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tbs. lemon juice
- 1 Tbs. pomegranate molasses
- 1 tsp. ground Aleppo pepper (or a few dashes of cayenne-this is optional)
- 2 large roasted red bell peppers, skinned OR 1 7-oz jar roasted peppers
- Salt to taste
- 1/3 cup olive oil (extra for brushing peppers if you wish)
If using fresh peppers, roast them, (instructions next) otherwise use the canned red peppers and drain them and pat them dry with paper towels. For housemade roasted peppers, preheat the oven to broil setting. Wash and dry peppers and cut them in half, removing the inner rib and seeds. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Brush the peppers generously with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes. Using the stems or tongs, turn the peppers over then broil for another 10 minutes. Remove peppers from the oven and let them cool until they’re easy enough to handle. Peel off the skins, and cut the pepper into smaller pieces. In a food processor, grind the garlic. Then add and mix the peppers, bread crumbs, lemon juice, tomato paste, pomegranate molasses, cumin, pepper, paprika and cayenne, and a dash of salt to taste. While blending slowly stir in half of the olive oil until smooth. Add the walnuts and remaining oil, and pulse together until the texture resembles crunchy peanut butter, or blend until smooth if you prefer. Transfer the muhammara to a container and refrigerate for at least a couple hours, to allow the flavors to blend.
On another note, I visited Michigan for an Arab conference recently, and have lots of exiting content to come in the new year from this trip! One of the events I captured as a debke performance, or Arabic folkloric dance. I decided to make a montage of various performances I have collected during my travels, and am excited to share them with you in another video below, hope you enjoy it!