The weather is cooling down where I live, and when this happens, I generally prefer that my food have a nice roasty and toasty flavor. Which makes now the perfect time to post the other version of muhamarra dip–the much-loved red bell pepper, walnut, and pomegranate dip popular throughout many countries of the Middle East.
In a previous post we explored the taste of Raw Muhammara by making the dip with all raw ingredients–bell peppers, garlic, walnuts, and so on. The raw version looks something like this:
For today’s version, you can roast your own bell peppers (not the best idea if you have, as I do, a tendency to walk away from the stove in an effort to multi-task). Or you can grab some jarred roasted bell peppers. Just make sure to rinse them well before using, and leave any brand that includes corn syrup in its ingredient list on the shelf. Here’s the jar I currently have on hand:
I’ve also included an optional ingredient that can really boost the smokey flavor of the dip. Personally, I like a smokey flavor in this dip. It reminds me of evenings in front of the fireplace when I was growing up. The ingredient? Liquid smoke. It’s pretty cool. Or should I say, warm? The brand I prefer is, and I quote
all-natural. . .Vegan, contains no animal byproducts, and is gluten free.
How do they make it?
Colgin Liquid Smoke is not a chemical or synthetic flavor – but genuine wood smoke “liquefied.” The wood is placed in large retorts where intense heat is applied, causing the wood to smolder (not burn).
I swear this isn’t a shameless product endorsement. The folks at Colgin haven’t greased my palm for mentioning their product. Here’s what it looks like.
For the record, there are many other great brands of liquid smoke on store shelves. It varies from region to region. Look on the aisle of your local store where spices and extracts are sold.
Now for the recipe.
Muhamarra Dip–Lightly Cooked Version
3-4 Large pre-roasted bell peppers (from a jar), rinsed thoroughly
11/2 Cups walnuts pieces or halves. Unsalted is best.
2-3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, or paste or molasses
2-3 garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
1/2 Teaspoon of ground cumin
Pinch of salt (to taste)
Drizzle of olive oil (a Tablespoon or two)
Dash of Liquid Smoke (optional)
Lightly toast the nuts and the whole garlic cloves on the stovetop in a skillet over medium low. Turn the nuts and garlic frequently so they don’t burn on one side. When their color deepens and the nutty fragrance begins to come through, they’re ready. Remove them from heat immediately.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.
Spread walnuts and the garlic cloves in a single layer on a baking sheet, and toast until lightly browned and fragrant. (The scent will tell you when they’re ready). To be on the safe side and avoid burning, you can set a timer for 5 minutes and check them, turning them at this time.
Optional step for an extra smokey flavor–mix in the ground cumin and toast for 30 seconds before removing the skillet from the heat or the pan from the oven.
Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend until smooth and silky. Adjust seasoning, lemon, and olive oil to taste. Re-blend if needed. That’s it!
The dip will thicken if refrigerated. Serve with pita bread and/or raw or roasted veggies.
NOTE: You might be tempted to add more liquid to get the ingredients to meld and blend. If you choose to do so, just go very slowly. You can always add more liquid, but it’s hard to get the dip to thicken up if it’s become too watery. Hey now–Don’t toss it if you find it too watery. Give it a chance to thicken up in the fridge. Or use it as a sauce, sandwich spread, and/or salad dressing.