the taste space

Muhammara (Syrian Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip)

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on July 21, 2010


I went on a mission the other day to find pomegranate molasses. I know I could make it myself, but I wanted to find it in a store. It was harder to find then I thought. My trusty Bestwin did NOT carry it. I turned to google and found another local food blogger who went through the same ordeal to find pomegranate molasses in Toronto. Her post brought me uptown to Super Khorak, a Persian grocery store on Yonge just south of Steeles. The staff were incredibly helpful when I began looking for the pomegranate molasses. After pointing me to shelves carrying at least 5 different kinds of pomegranate molasses/concentrate, they also proceeded to show me pomegranate juice and fresh pomegranates. I sampled their freshly made flatbread (only $1.59! Freshly made in-house, you can watch them make it!) and it was delicious. I also picked up some baklava with a walnut filling, but found it too sweet for my liking.

**update July 31: Without looking for it, I found pomegranate molasses at the No Frills on Victoria Park, next to the orange blossom and rose water (on sale this week, to boot!). It was next to the bulgur and wheat berries.

You see, I went on a mission to pomegranate molasses because I really wanted to make muhammara, a Syrian/Turkish roasted red pepper and walnut dip. Many versions of Muhammara exist, with some recipes having tomato paste, others do not, some do not use pomegranate molasses, and some don’t even have roasted red peppers. I ended up adapting the Muhammara recipe from Gourmet (December 1993).


And the dip was delicious. I had everyone curious as to its components as it was quite complex in flavours. Slightly sweet from the red peppers, slightly sour from the pomegranate molasses, slightly spicy from the garlic and chili pepper (use more if you want real heat), add some bulk from the bread crumbs with a smoothness from the walnuts.  I brought it, along with my peanut butter hummus, and chopped flatbread to dip, to a work potluck and it was enjoyed by all. Funnily enough, the hummus disappeared faster, but the muhammara received more compliments.  Doesn’t matter – both were delicious.

Now that I’ve used 2 tsp from my bottle of pomegranate molasses, what to do next? No worries, I have amassed a few more recipes in my treasure troves of recipes to try:

Vegetarian Eggplant Moussaka from Esurientes
Fouliyeh (Fava beans and rice)
from Taste of Beirut
Eggplant Stuffed with Cheese and Nuts
from Taste of Beirut
Pasta with Muhammara Sauce
from Taste of Beirut
Stuffed Cabbage (Mehshi Malfoof)
from Taste of Beirut
Bulgur Salad with Pomegranate Dressing and Toasted Nuts
from The Wednesday Chef
Bulgur, Pomegranate and Walnut Salad
at Food & Wine
Spoon Lamb
from the New York Times
Pomegranate and Date Lamb Tagine by Closet Cooking
Pomegranate and Pistachio Couscous Salad by Closet Cooking
Roasted Eggplant, Red Pepper and Green Bean Pomegranate Salad by Closet Cooking
Pomegranate Molasses and Pistachio Cookies by Avocado & Bravado

This is my submission to Sara for this month’s Monthly Mingle featuring party treats, and to Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice for Magazine Mondays.

Muhammara (Syrian Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip)

3 red peppers, halved and deseeded
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs (or fresh fine bread crumbs)
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted lightly and chopped fine
2-4 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt (I used 2 cloves which was not spicy)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes (Aleppo works well)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp ground sumac, for garnish (optional)
toasted pita triangles as an accompaniment

1. Preheat the oven broiler. Line a small roasting pan with aluminum foil. Place the pepper halves in the pan, cut side down, and place in the oven on the shelf closest to the broiler. Broil until the pepper skins are completely black, about 8-15 minutes. Remove from the oven, wrap the pepper in the foil and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and rub off the skins of the peppers. Slice the peppers into 1/2-inch-thick strips and set aside.

2. In a food processor blend together the peppers, the bread crumbs, the walnuts, the garlic, the lemon juice, the pomegranate molasses, the cumin, the red pepper flakes, and salt to taste until the mixture is smooth and with the motor running add the oil gradually. Transfer the muhammara to a bowl, sprinkle with ground sumac, and serve it at room temperature with the pita triangles.

Makes ~2 cups.

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16 Responses

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  1. Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal said, on July 21, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    That looks wonderful. I have only seen it once before in another friend’s blog. Love the color and ingredients gone in it.

  2. Joanne said, on July 22, 2010 at 8:40 AM

    I have been dying to make this dip since I found pomegranate molasses at this spice shop near my apartment. The color is gorgeous and I would love it smeared over a piece of crusty bread. Holy yum.

    I’ve made Kevin’s pomegranate molasses couscous salad before. It’s life changing.

    • Saveur said, on July 22, 2010 at 9:16 AM

      Thanks for the tip on the couscous, Joanne. I will definitely check it out! mmm… :)

  3. bitesize4me said, on July 22, 2010 at 11:30 PM

    YUM! Looks delicious! I’ve made something similar before. When i couldn’t find pomegranate molasses in the store, i discovered a recipe online to make my own:
    (From simplyrecipes.com)

    4 cups pomegranate juice
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/4 cup lemon juice

    In a large, uncovered saucepan, heat pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon juice on medium high until the sugar has dissolved and the juice simmers. Reduce heat just enough to maintain a simmer. Simmer for about an hour, or until the juice has a syrupy consistency, and has reduced to 1 to 1 1/4 cups. Pour out into a jar. Let cool. Store chilled in the refrigerator. If you want your pomegranate molasses to be sweeter, add more sugar to taste, while you are cooking it.

    • Saveur said, on July 22, 2010 at 11:45 PM

      Your dip was super yummy at the potluck, J. :D I think it was similar, no?

  4. Rose said, on July 23, 2010 at 3:47 PM

    Your muhammara looks gorgeous! Now I’m inspired to make it again this week…

    I’m a barbarian, so I occasionally just take a tablespoon or two of pomegranate molasses and eat it on its own. It reminds me of the super tart candies I ate as a kid but wouldn’t go anywhere near now.

  5. Kevin (Closet Cooking) said, on July 25, 2010 at 9:55 AM

    What an amazing shade of red! Muhammara is such a tasty dip!

  6. Ivonne said, on July 26, 2010 at 9:26 PM

    Janet, this is just gorgeous! I’ve had something similar once while out for dinner but now I want to try it myself. I’ve seen pomegranate molasses at Whole Foods (I think) but I knwo the area of Toronto that you bought it in and there are a lot of Persian specialty stores in that area. Lovely!

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  8. Adrian said, on September 4, 2010 at 1:37 PM

    This is so yummy! Brought to a potluck yesterday. We will be making again. If you buy jarred peppers, or even better roast a bunch in the fall/harvest season and freeze them, this recipe will be so quick – just blend! And no hot oven on a hot day :-)

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