Muhammara is a tasty Middle Eastern roasted red pepper dip. This classic recipe is made with roasted red peppers, walnuts and olive oil. You can make this vegetarian dip rather quickly using only a few ingredients. It has a unique flavor thanks to pomegranate molasses and walnuts.
Dips are a big part of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines and are usually served on a mezze platter as an appetizer. Some popular dips are hummus, baba ganoush and of course, tzatziki. Today we're talking about Muhammara, a classic dip that's packed with amazing flavors of roasted red peppers and pomegranate molasses.
About this recipe
Muhammara, pronounced "mhammara", means "reddened" in Arabic (محمره) is a roasted red pepper dip with origins in Aleppo, Syria. It contains roasted red pepper, olive oil, walnuts, bread crumbs and of course, Aleppo pepper.
Even though this spread was born in Aleppo, Syria, it's now a common vegetarian appetizer in Levantine and Turkish cuisine and there are different variations of it. This dip is similar to Ajvar, a red pepper dip from the Balkans, specifically Serbia.
There are so many variation of muhammara but the most common ones include roasted red peppers, walnuts, olive oil, Aleppo pepper and bread crumbs. It's common to add some pomegranate molasses to the dip to balance the flavors and add some subtle tanginess to balance the sweetness from the roasted peppers.
To make this Mediterranean roasted red pepper dip, you need the following ingredients:
- Bread crumbs: This is to add texture to the dip. You can either use store bought or make it at home.
- Walnuts: They add great flavor to the dip. You can use roasted or plain, make sure they are unsalted.
- Roasted red bell peppers: You can get them at a store (usually in a jar) or make them at home.
- Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil is perfect for this recipe. It makes the dip smooth and gives depth to the flavor.
- Garlic: A couple of cloves would be enough. You don't want the dip to taste "garlicky" but simply has a kick.
- Lemon: The tanginess of the lemon balances the sweetness of the roasted peppers.
- Cumin: A delicious addition to the dip that adds some good flavor.
- Aleppo Pepper: A special crushed red pepper (see the photo) that can be found online or in Middle Eastern shops. It has a bit of a kick and has a deep red color which compliments the roasted peppers.
- Pomegranate Molasses: For more flavor and balance. You can find it at some supermarkets, middle eastern shops and also online.
How to roast red bell peppers
I used store bought roasted red bell peppers for this recipe, however, here is a small tutorial on how to roast them at home:
- Turn on the broiler and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Wash and dry the bell peppers. Cut them in half and scoop out the seeds.
- Place the pepper on the baking sheet, cut side down and broil in the oven for about 15 minutes until the skin is charred.
- Once they are out of the oven, let the cool and peel the skin off.
- Your roasted red peppers are ready to be used in this muhammara recipe.
- In a food processor, blend the walnuts and bread crumbs for about 30 seconds so the walnuts are crushed.
- To the food processor bowl, add roasted red peppers, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, Aleppo pepper, pomegranate molasses and salt. Blend the ingredients together until you reach a creamy consistency. This would take about 2 minutes. Pause and scrape the sides and then blend again.
- Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes to an hour before serving.
- To serve, top muhammara with some chopped walnuts and green onions or parsley.
We just love making this delicious appetizer for our parties and gatherings since it's also a good addition to a mezze platter with hummus and other Mediterranean appetizers.
This roasted red pepper dip is quite versatile; you can use it in so many different ways such as:
- Have it as a dip with pita chips, lavash or fresh pita bread on a Mediterranean Mezze Platter with some labneh and baked feta. Here we served it with some pita crackers.
- Use it as a sauce for chicken kabobs, beef shish kabob, chicken shawarma and grilled lamb.
- you can use it as a spread on a piece of bread for a delicious sandwich.
It's amazing how a healthy vegetarian appetizer can be so delicious! A simple vegetarian dip like muhammara is something that no one can resist!
What to do with the leftovers
If you have leftovers, which I really doubt, you can put it in an airtight container and refrigerate it for 2-3 days. I won't refrigerate it for any longer since the ingredients would start losing their flavors and textures. Also, do not freeze this dip as it will lose all its texture and becomes all mushy and watery. it is best to serve this spread the same day you make it.
Frequently asked questions
The main flavor of this roasted red pepper dip comes from walnuts and using other nuts instead of walnuts might alter the flavor and texture. However, if you would like to use an alternative, pine nuts or cashews could work for this recipe.
Yes. You can make muhammara a day or two before serving. It'll keep the flavor and texture very well.
Aleppo pepper has a specific taste. It's not hot, but has a kick. If it's not available, you can use chili flakes.
Notes and tips
- You can use store-bought roasted red peppers for a quick and easy dip. You can also roast the peppers yourself.
- Use the best olive oil you have on hand. A delicious and good quality olive oil makes all the difference.
- To make gluten free muhammara, use gluten free bread crumbs which you can find in many supermarkets or online.
- Top this dip with extra walnuts for some extra texture and crunch.
- The unique flavor of this Mediterranean dip comes from pomegranate molasses so please don't skip it. You can learn how to make homemade pomegranate molasses on my fesenjan recipe.
Muhammara Recipe (Syrian Red Pepper Dip)
- 3 tablespoon bread crumbs
- 1 cup walnuts
- 4 roasted red bell peppers
- 3 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 lemon juice of
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper less if you want it less spicy
- 3 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Place the walnuts and bread crumbs in a food processor and blend for 30 seconds.
- Add in roasted red peppers, olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice, cumin, Aleppo pepper, pomegranate molasses and salt. Blend for one to two minutes until all the ingredients are well combined.
- Scrape the edges and blend again for another 20 seconds.
- Serve cool with vegetables, pita chips, or pita crackers.
- To make pomegranate molasses at home, simmer pomegranate juice until it's reduced to a syrup consistency. Cool it and use it in recipes such as this one.
- Using quality olive oil is important for this recipe and it gives depth to the flavors.
- Refrigerate the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.