Originally served alongside kibbe balls, now muhammara is served as a dip or part of a mezze, with some toasted bread. I think it is originally from Aleppo, Syria. In any case, like hummos, it is a very personal and subtle combination of flavors and spices and you will no doubt come up with your own special mix. I love it and have to stop myself from gobbling tons of it: something about the pomegranate molasses, richness of the nuts, mellowness of the bread, sweetness of the tomato and finally that spicy aftertaste of the chili that lingers in the mouth, whatever it is, I find it totally addictive! My friend came over yesterday and brought with her the collection of recipes of a dear friend of the family, Marie-Louise Homsi. This is her recipe for muhammara, slightly adapted.
- 2 cups ground walnuts
- 1 cup ground ka’ak, or toasted breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 Tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup ketchup (or tomato sauce with 1 teaspoon sugar)
- 1/2 cup prepared chili paste with oil
- 1 Tablespoon of ground cumin
- extra olive oil, to taste
- salt, black pepper, to taste
- Mix the breadcrumbs with the water and set aside till it makes a paste
- Mix walnuts with chili paste with oil and let it sit for 30 minutes
- Mix all the ingredients together and taste. Add more oil if paste is too thick.
My friend used tahine (1 tablespoon) instead of olive oil to add to the mixture. It is a matter of personal taste. Also, it is possible to toast or fry the walnuts and use a combination of almonds, walnuts, pistachios or pine nuts.