When we were at the market a few days ago, I saw a bottle of pomegranate molasses and my hand immediately reached out for it. It’s one of those concoctions that I’ve been wanting to try for ages. Mindful, however, of my full-to-capacity cupboards, I left the bottle there, telling the Culinary Enthusiast that I’d buy it when I had a recipe that called for it.
As these things are wont to go, only days later I saw a photo on Pinterest of a dip I’d never heard of before, muhammara. Its texture, colour and the ingredient list that included pomegranate molasses caught my attention, so I headed to the all-knowing land of Google where I discovered many variations of this Middle Eastern paste which can be used as a dip or a spread.
Essentially, the base of muhammara is a blend of roasted red peppers, walnuts, breadcrumbs and olive oil. These ingredients are common to the vast majority of the recipes I found, although, oddly enough, the one that first drew me in was the only one that didn’t include red peppers. Pomegranate molasses was fairly common, as well as some variant of chili-based spices for heat. I drew from this research to cobble together a version with a balance of flavourings pleasing to my palate.
Rich and creamy roasted red pepper, the nubbly texture of walnuts, tangy sweetness from pomegranate molasses and the stealthy low heat of chili flakes and paprika makes this a dip that is sure to be both versatile and popular. Try to make it a day ahead and refrigerate it so the flavours have a chance to develop further before serving.
As for that pomegranate molasses, it was an instant favourite from my first taste and will be cropping up in more recipes before long. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the complex flavour of muhammara on toasted pita chips.
I made this version for a family gathering and kept the heat level fairly low (principally for generations 1 and 4). If you’d like it hotter or even milder, by all means adjust the red chili flakes and/or paprika.
- 1 roasted red pepper, cut into about 1-inch squares (1/2 cup)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup small walnut pieces
- 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs, dried or lightly toasted (I made mine from pita bread)
- 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp salt
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender, and pulse until well combined. The red peppers will be smooth, but the walnuts should still have a pleasing nubbly texture. (If you like more texture, blend together the other ingredients and then add the walnuts, pulsing until you achieve the desired end state.) Taste and adjust the seasonings to suit your palate.