El muhammara is a Syrian specialty a kind of tapenade or a pepper-based spread. There is a similar Turkish recipe called acuka or adjika but in this recipe we combine pepper paste with concentrated tomato.
The components of the two recipes are almost the same and available in several variants.
Today it’s the Syrian version that invites itself into my kitchen and believe me this muhammara is irresistible. Ideal for these hot weather for aperitifs.
El muhammara keeps perfectly well in a sterilized and hermetically sealed jar, and above all, don’t forget to top it with a generous bed of olive oil in order to keep it better.
Roasted peppers bring more flavor to the muhummara and preserve it even better. You can replace the molasses with a little honey or a teaspoon of brown sugar.
I cooked my peppers on the barbecue and it really is the best cooking for this vegetable that is difficult to digest raw. I tell you this because there is this type of tartinade with raw pepper, personally I strongly avoid it not only for digestion but also for conservation.
Peppers roasted in the embers of my childhood, mum baked the bread traditionally and ended up placing in the timid flames peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, onions etc… In order to finish with a delicious méchouia or a tchakchouka to accompany the bread.
Summer meals from my childhood that marked the spirit with their authentic taste and the smells of seasonal flavors. I remember my grandmother used an earthen kanoun to grill vegetables, poultry offal, corn on the cob and many other things.
But of course you can opt for the oven option, just preheat the oven well and place the plate at the top of the grid. A charred or blackish skin is obtained to ensure that the pepper is well cooked.
The peppers must be stored in a glass container and put the lid back on or in freezer bags, the skin of the pepper comes off easily and the flavors concentrate better.
You can prepare them the day before if you want, in order to let the perfume infuse and obtain beautiful flavors.
Note also that in the original recipe we use salted kaak, these are biscuits in the shape of bracelets but a classic bread crumb will do the trick.
3 medium sized red bell peppers
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes or paprika
125g whole walnuts
60 g of salted kaak reduced to breadcrumbs or, failing that, breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 small head of pink garlic (I used 1/3 for this recipe)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 drizzle of olive oil about 4 tbsp
1 small teaspoon of salt
1- Wash the peppers well, dry them with paper towel and cut them in half or quarters if they are large lengthwise, then remove the stems, seeds and white parts.
2- Cut the top of the head of garlic, drizzle it lightly with olive oil and put it on the barbecue to cook with the pepper. If it’s in the ovenlay a sheet of baking paper on a baking sheet and place the peppers, the head of garlic, on the baking sheet, the skin of the peppers upwards, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes.
3- Once the peppers are well cooked, put them back in the glass container and close hermetically or in a closed plastic bag and let stand and cool.
4- Remove the skin from the peppers, gently run the knife over the skin to clean any traces. Be careful, you never rinse the pepper once grilled, crush the head of garlic to remove the cooked cloves in a puree.
5- Put the strips of peppers in the bowl of the mixer, add the walnuts, and mix until you obtain a very smooth consistency. At that time, aAdd all other ingredients except olive oil: hot pepper, breadcrumbs, pomegranate molasses, garlic, lemon juice, cumin and salt. Mix the whole.
6- Then pour the olive oil in a trickle and mix at low speed until it is completely incorporated into the muhammara mixture. Serve warm or cold with bread, you can garnish the muhammara with greasy pomegranate.