Muhammara is a thing of wonder and splendour. It's not very often that a dish so intensely flavoursome comes into your life, where you exclaim "Why has this been kept from me for so long!?" Muhammara originates from Aleppo, Syria and is enjoyed all across the Levant and Turkic regions. I first tasted this unassuming dish in Turkey on one of my trips.
As is the way, Turkish meze (a selection of small sharing plates) is how I enjoy to eat in the country. For very little money, you get to eat a LOT of food. Let me tell you, Turkish people are very generous with food and love to see you enjoy a meal. Many a night I would literally roll back to our hotel like an over-inflated beach-ball. I love generosity in food, and I love that other people love that I love that!
One such dish which would always be part of our feast was the vibrant orange Muhammara. A simple combination of peppers, walnuts and other Middle Eastern delights. It has a sweetness from the red peppers, an undeniable sourness from the pomegranate molasses and a light hit of spice. In Turkey, I tasted varying degrees of spice, from mild, to blistering chilli wildness. My muhammara recipe is a milder version. Some heat comes from fresh chilli (you can dial it down or up as you like), and also from the dried Aleppo pepper. It's how I like to eat it most.
What is Aleppo Pepper?
Aleppo pepper (from the exact place this dish was created in Syria) is a common ingredient in Turkish cuisine (sometimes known as Halaby Pepper). It's a coarsely ground dried pepper that is relatively mild in flavour. One of my favourite ways to use a sprinkling on my favourite Turkish Menemen Breakfast Eggs - a wonderful start to any day! Aleppo pepper is widely available and helps to create the authentic Turkish flavour in Muhammara.
This dish is a perfect partner to so many other amazing Turkish dishes and should always be offered up as part of a feast; a source to dip and scoop flatbreads with abandon. The complex sweet, sour and spice is quite addictive. Not to mention the amazing creamy, nutty texture - it's so perfect you may not be able to stop.
Dishes to serve alongside Muhammara
If I'm making a meze spread, I'll usually include Muhammara alongside a few other favourites. Here are some recipe suggestions to serve with yours.