Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Making muhammara

Last week I had one of those days. One of those days when the dogs were asleep, the chores were done, the man was out and I was free to do whatever took my fancy. With my Netflix account out of order, I headed to the kitchen to perfect my recipe for one of my favourite things right now - muhammara*.

Homemade Muhammara

Muhammara is a Syrian dish that I discovered on the mezze menu of an Armenian restaurant in Dubai so I think I'm safe to class it as a perfect example of delicious middle-eastern food. This treat is big on spice and flavour and can be used as a dip, dressing or sandwich filling. Or like my delicious homemade hummus, muhammara goes great with just warm bread or veggie sticks. There are many different recipes out there, most with a scientifically beautiful, tried and tested mix of ingredients. However, I use the following, mainly because I love how round the numbers are (Delia I ain't). 

Homemade Muhammara Recipe Ingredients2 large red peppers
1 cup of walnuts

half cup of breadcrumbs (I use store bought breadcrumbs - sorry mum!)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
a good pinch of pepper

2 teaspoons of pomegranate molasses**
2 crushed cloves of garlic
juice of half a lemon
a good drizzle of olive oil

To start, I roast the red peppers and walnuts. This is the most time consuming bit of the job. While I am waiting on these, I measure out the remaining ingredients - because I do love to be super efficient. Then I skin and chop the peppers (the trick to skinning peppers seems to be transferring them straight to a bowl to sit in their own steam for a while when they come out of the oven) and roughly chop the walnuts.

When they are ready, I throw the peppers and walnuts into the blender to get them looking a bit more pastey. With the moisture from the peppers, the walnuts usually mush down pretty quickly. Then in go the rest of the ingredients for some more blending. When the mix is a similar consistency to pesto, I call it ready.

That's it. My muhammara stores happily in the fridge for about a week and comes out when any meal needs a bit of excitement. 

* I hear this word pronounced differently every time I order it. Like a true Brit I've been pronouncing it exactly as it looks, but I believe that the correct way is more like moo-humm-ada or moo-hahm-mrah, both with the emphasis at the end. But don't rely on me too much here. I'm even less of an expert at the arabic language than I am on their food. 

** I found this ingredient in the first shop I tried, a Carrefour corner shop, but I had to ask as I had no idea what disguise it would be wearing. It was with the cooking oils (with a picture of a pomegranate on the label) but it can also be with the syrups or baking ingredients. If you're not in the middle-east, you may need to search the world food aisles. 

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