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Magic Muhammara Dip

Condiment Recipes Dips and Spreads
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Whenever I am looking for a showstopping dip I always turn to the recipe collection of Kurma Dasa. Kurma is an Australian vegetarian chef I met many years ago while taking some cooking classes at The Essential Ingredient in Melbourne Australia. I immediately became intoxicated with the incredible flavour of his food, and the simplicity of his cooking style. Who can forget the Creamy Raw Vegan Cashew Dip.

Most of Kurma’s cooking is inspired by the flavours of India. However, every once and a while he diverts to explore the culinary delights of other exotic regions. This exquisite muhammara recipe – (or Syrian roasted red pepper and walnut dip), is a shining example of his awesome recipes that will keep you rustling through his books screaming for more inspiration! This muhammara recipe is absolutely phenomenal, and bursting with a unique flavour that is memorable. If you are looking for a vegan dip that is really different -- this is the one!

This recipe marked my first introduction to pomegranate molasses, which is a thick viscous ruby syrup made from the concentrated juice of tart pomegranates. It has a tangy, fruity flavour that is quite particular, and is predominantly used in Middle Eastern dishes. You can find this at exotic grocers or Middle Eastern food stores. It is sometimes labelled as pomegranate syrup. Just make sure it is made from 100% pomegranate juice. I must admit that the minute I tasted this gorgeous sweet dip on a slice of toasted ciabatta, it was love at first bite; and I have been dipping my snout in the muhammara recipe trough of heaven ever since. I now keep a bottle of pomegranate molasses in my pantry so that I can wow my dinner guests with a taste sensation that is complex and vibrant.

I have been whipping up this sensational dip to rave reviews for over ten years, and I hope it will become a staple in your "delectable dip" repertoire, just as it has in mine. Just a tip about the addition of the bread: add it gradually to achieve the desired consistency. Because gluten free bread can absorb a lot of moisture, if you add too much at the beginning, you can end up with a dip that is a bit too sticky, and then you are forced to add in more liquids that can really throw off the flavour balance. I find that starting with 1/2 cup of crumbed bread (which is about 1 slice) is usually perfect. But depending on how large your peppers are, you might find that you need a bit more. Don’t go from one to two slices immediately. Just add in a little at a time in order to achieve your perfect blend.

This roasted red pepper and walnut dip that originates in Syria, is also known as “spicy hot pepper dip”. It is served in various incantations all over Armenia, Turkey and Lebanon. There are a lot of variations containing cumin, dried hot pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and quantity variations of the lemon juice, garlic, chilli and molasses. These variations yield pastes with quite different personalities. Kurma’s version is a little more unusual in that it doesn’t contain cumin. Instead, he chooses to use asafoetida powder, which might also be unfamiliar to you. This is a fantastic ground vegetable powder used as a flavour enhancer in Southern Indian cuisine. It tastes like strong onions and can be found in Indian grocers or exotic food stores. It is as cheap as chips, and a tiny container will last you for ages. Kurma uses it in a lot of his cooking. It's also great for boosting the flavour of soups, stews and stir-fries.

His version of muhammara is also devoid of that really spicy kick, which is what I like about the personality of this blend. If you prefer a bit more heat in order to balance out the sweetness and tartness of the pomegranates, feel free to add in some more chopped red chilli. You also might want to add in a tiny clove of garlic and some more lemon juice. But I really like this mild blend that allows the pomegranates to have their moment. I am also not a fan of really spicy food. When my tongue is burning my taste buds can’t navigate their way around the natural flavours of the fruits and vegetables. But some of you might prefer a spicy balance of notes.

This dip is traditionally served spread on crusty bread or toast, but tastes fantastic with raw vegetable sticks. It also makes a wonderful paste spread on kebabs, burgers, and wraps; or even a rich sweet pasta sauce if thinned out with some olive oil. Either way, this recipe is a winner. It is just absolutely delicious.

Thanks Kurma!

Muhammara - Red Pepper and Walnut Dip

Magic Muhammara Dip

Print
  • 2 large red peppers (capsicums) blistered with the skin removed
  • 1 small hot red chilli chopped with the placental skin removed
  • ½ cup – 1 cup (about 1- 2 slices) of gluten free bread crumbled up
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp yellow asafetida powder
  • 1 Tbsp or 1 ½ Tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley to serve
  1. Roast the peppers for about 15 minutes until skin is blistered and blackened. Place in a plastic bag and seal and allow to cool a little before skinning.
  2. Combine all the other ingredients except the parsley in a food processor and blend until you get a thick creamy paste. Start with 1 slice of gluten free bread, and if that is not enough to get the desired consistency gradually add some more.
  3. You might want to add in more lemon juice, molasses or olive oil to taste. But I think this blend is perfect.
  4. Serve with sprinkled parsley and toasted ciabatta, pita bread, flat bread or vegetable sticks.

This dip gets better with age and tastes better the next day. It will keep for about 4 days in a sealed container in the fridge. YUM!

Recipe published here with permission from Kurma Dasa. 

Tip: selecting the best raw walnuts

Raw unshelled walnuts are widely available in pre-packaged bags as well as bulk bins. Always purchase from a supplier where there is a high turnover to ensure freshness and quality. Look for walnuts that are uniform in colour. Avoid the limp and shrivelled ones. Walnuts should smell nutty and sweet. If they smell musty or rancid they are bad. Walnuts are extremely susceptible to rancidity due to their high polyunsaturated fat content. To preserve the precious oils, store walnuts in a sealed glass jar in the fridge for up to six months. Always soak walnuts before using to remove the enzyme inhibitors and make them more digestible.

Is there something that can be used a substitute for the yellow asafetida powder?

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Hey Katie
I have made this dip without the asafetida and it still tasted delicious. But to replicate depth of flavour you get with the asafetida you could add a pinch of granulated garlic and granulated onion. Let me know how you go.

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I made this one because the cashew dip was so fantastic and this one was amazing too. What different flavours. I had never used pomegranate molasses before and don’t know what else to use it for. But that is OK . I will just keep making this dip.

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Glad you enjoyed it. Pomegranate Molasses is great in salad dressings and all kinds of other recipes. Google it and try some other recipes with it.

I found the asafetida powder - it is delicious!  I LOVEEE this dip! It reminds me of one of my favorite foods ever – a Persian dish called Fesenjan.  My husband is Iranian and introduced me to this fabulous recipe made with walnuts, pomegranate and chicken.  It is one of my favorite foods ever!  Not sure if you eat chicken or not – but I think it can be made with butternut squash or maybe tofu without the chicken.  You should try it.  Here is a link to the recipe. http://www.food.com/recipe/fesenjan-iranian-special-occasion-dish-91809

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Thanks for letting me know Katie. I am so pleased you found the asafetida. Yes! That dip is a winner - such different flavours and the best recipe for that dip that I have tasted. Check out the creamy cashew dip and roasted beetroot dip. They are AMAZING as well - real showstoppers for guests. Thanks for the link. I will pass it onto my mother who LOVES chicken.

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I had never used pomegranate molasses either and this dip was really different as you said.

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Kurma strikes again - this is delicious. I served your beetroot dip and the cashew dip on a platter together with this one and everyone said they were the most interesting dips they had ever tasted.

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Awesome! Yeah….his recipes are amazing.

thanks for the recipie.  I’m new to using a blender but absolutely agree that it is a fabulous tool for creating dishes. I couldnt find the pomegranate molasses anywhere, so went to an Asian shop and got some “Anardana Powder” which is dry Pomegranate powder, and was thrilled with the results.
Pomegranate brings another sort of dimension to the flavour. Its so unusual. Thanks again.

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Hey Meredith! Welcome to the joys of s’blended food. I am going to give the pomegranate powder a go. I have never used it before, and love trying new things. Thanks for sharing :)

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After trying the roasted beetroot dip I had to try this one and thank goodness. What interesting flavours. You are right - these dips are so wonderfully different. Thanks for sharing.

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Now this dip is different. Loved it. Thanks

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Elizabeth Carrington - Feb 27, 2011 at 12:31pm #

Yes - this dip is really different, like the spinach dip. The dips you share are SO delicious. Thankyou!

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Oh, thankyou! So glad you enjoyed it.

Unlike some of your other readers, I have actually tried this dip before seeing your recipe here. In fact, I’ve had it many times at a local Turkish restaurant and was always wondering how I could make it at home. (This concern was heightened when I recently learned that gluten doesn’t like me very much, so I can no longer actually go to that restaurant.) Thanks to this recipe, I can now have the delightful flavors of Muhammara whenever I want. It’s sooo tasty even without the asafetida powder, buy clearly, I’m still on the lookout for it.

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Hey Melissa
Thanks for the lovely comment. I really love this dip and lovely to know others do too.
Great to be connected here and on Twitter. :)

This looks delish! I will most definitely be putting it on my must try list. Even better, I have asafetida powder in my cupboard and nothing to use it for till now.

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Great! Please let me know what you think :)

Hi Is there a way to store asafetida so the odour is contained? Ive tried a number of ways but none have worked. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated
Cheers
Di

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Di - Oh, I hear ya! I keep it in the container it comes in when I purchase it at the Indian grocer. Then I place it in another glass container. That works for me. Hope this helps :)

Asafetida powder is used in the UK to kill rats! How can that be healthy?

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Asafetida powder has been used in Indian cooking for many years. But, if you are worried about it, this dip tastes delicious without it.

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