Muhammara - Vegan Roast Pepper and Walnut Dip18
Whenever I am looking for a showstopping vegan 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 vegetarian cooking classes at The Essential Ingredient (formally The Vital 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. That is another one of those incredible creamy vegan dip recipes I got from him. Most of Kurma’s vegetarian 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 quick, easy healthy 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 easy vegan 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 vegan dip to rave reviews for over ten years, and I hope it will become a staple in your “delectable vegan 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 vegetarian cooking, so I will use it in some more of the gluten free vegetarian recipes that I will post. It is also great for boosting the flavour of vegan 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 roasted red pepper and walnut dip is traditionally served spread on crusty bread or toast, but tastes fantastic with raw vegetable sticks. It also makes a wonderful vegan paste spread on vegetable kebabs, burgers, and wraps; or even a rich sweet pasta sauce if thinned out with some olive oil. Either way, this muhammara recipe is a winner. It is just absolutely delicious. If you are looking for easy healthy vegan recipes this is a stunning addition to your vegetarian table. This vegan dip recipe is gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, sugar free, and absolutely delicious. Thanks Kurma!
Muhammara - Vegan Roast Pepper and Walnut Dip
- 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 coconut sugar or raw agave
- 1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt
- 3 Tbsp cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley to serve
- 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.
- 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.
- You might want to add in more lemon juice, molasses or olive oil to taste. But I think this blend is perfect.
- 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.
Piggy Cooking Tips
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.