What’s in a name?

If it happens to be Muhammara, there is apparently a lot. Not only an abundance of syllables, but succulence from red peppers, lushness from walnuts and olive oil, sweetness and tanginess from pomegranate molasses and lemon juice, and heat from red pepper flakes.

This culinary masterpiece comes all the way from Aleppo, Syria (I’ll pause here to send a prayer for peace to this beautiful country), and is found in Levantine and Turkish cuisines. In western Turkey, it is called Acuka.

This raw rendition of Muhammara was one of the first recipes we were taught at Matthew Kenney Culinary. It was a major crowd pleaser!

It can be served with raw bread or crackers, but if those are unavailable to you, lettuce leaves, cucumber, celery and carrot sticks will do just fine. Actually, this dip is so complete, that all you need is a spoon.

I made some slight adjustments to the recipe, but the essentials are all there.

I am so excited to share with you:

“Raw Muhammara/Acuka”
(2 servings)

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Ingredients:

– 2 red bell peppers
– 3/4 C walnuts, finely chopped
– 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped (optional)
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1/2 TBS lemon juice
– 3/4 tsp pomegranate molasses alt. agave or honey
– 1/2 tsp ground cumin
– 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
– pinch of dried pepper flakes
– 2,5 TBS olive oil

Instructions:

1. Remove pith and seeds from the bell peppers. Cut them in medium size chunks and toss them in a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 TBS olive oil and a pinch of salt. Mix everything together and spread on a Teflex sheet. Dehydrate for about 1,5h. (If you do not have a dehydrator, you can either marinate bell peppers in 3 TBS olive oil, 2 TBS lemon juice and a good pinch of salt for about 2-3 hours).

2. After dehydrated, finely dice half of the bell peppers and set aside.

3. In a food processor, mix the rest of the bell peppers with other ingredients, except olive oil, until well combined but still chunky. Add oil gradually while still processing.

4. Add finely diced bell peppers to the processed mixture. Add salt to taste if needed.

5. Serve at room temperature. Garnish with black olives, hemp seeds and fresh herbs. Enjoy!

P.S. This is how I plated Muhammara with walnut flatbread, zucchini almond hummus, lemon tahini, mint oil, fennel and capers.

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