Yeah…so…about that picture. Let me explain. I can only imagine what you’re thinking, but I’m guessing it’s along the lines of “What in the world is in that bowl?! And what is muhammara? Is it some other name for canned cat food?” Well first, to answer your question, no it is not cat food. It is in fact something very delicious if you can even believe that. I understand your confusion though. Just a couple of weeks ago, I too had no clue what muhammara was and also would have been repulsed by the picture.
This all changed when I came into work one Monday morning and my co-worker said to me “Taylor I ate the best thing I have ever eaten in my entire life this weekend.” Intrigued, I replied, “Yeah? Well, what was it?” The response: “I have no idea, but I want you to make it for me.”
Hmm…okay… Does anyone else see a problem with this situation?
Well I happen to like challenges, especially ones that involve food, so I spent the day trying to figure out what it was that my coworker had eaten (when I wasn’t working hard, of course). I’m guessing you know how this story turns out…it was muhammara! I’m also guessing you’re still wondering what muhammara is. Okay, so it’s a Middle Eastern dip that consists mainly of red peppers, walnuts, and breadcrumbs along with a handful of spices. The unique ingredient in the dip is pomegranate molasses. It its a syrup made from concentrated pomegranate juice and sugar and gives the dip a hint of sweetness. It can be found at any Middle Eastern food store, Whole Foods, and other select specialty food stores. It is definitely a fun ingredient worth seeking!
The dip turned out delicious and was a big hit at the clinic. While wee ate it with wheat thins (it’s all we had) I think it would be best served with pita or pita chips. The flavor was a combination of savory, smokey, with a bit of sweetness. One note about the texture: I have seen the dip in multiple consistencies, from completely pureed to pretty chunky. I used my immersion blender to puree the top half of my bowl, then mixed it with the coarsely chopped chunks at the bottom of the bowl, so it was a combination of smooth and chunky.
So give it a try…go outside your comfort zone and make something new! Even if it might look like canned cat food…
adapted from Vegan Peace
2 red bell peppers
1 tbsp water
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted, roughly chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
2/3 cup breadcrumbs
2-4 tbsp olive oil (depending on the consistency you want)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Turn on broiler. Char peppers on baking sheet on each side. Just be sure you are carefully watching them, because the broiler works quickly! Just char one side, take them out, turn them with some prongs, but them back in and repeat.
After they are charred, put them in a paper sack for 10 minutes. This will steam them and make the skins super easy to remove.
After 10 minutes, peel, stem, and seed them. Then coarsely chop them up.
Combine red peppers with the rest of the ingredients. You can either pulse it all together in a food processor until the desired consistency, or I used an immersion hand blender, as I wanted mine a little chunkier.
Let stand several hours before serving, and if you chill it, bring it to room temperature before serving. Serve with pita chips, sesame crackers, flat bread, raw veggies, etc.