Thursday, November 9, 2017

Muhamra's cousin - Mu akhdar?

Muhammara is well loved in our household - all the versions: the Syrian, the Turkish and the Palestinian versions. All three versions have toasted Walnuts and Pomegranate molasses.
The Syrian version is made with Aleppo peppers, the Turkish version with red pepper paste and the Palestinian version with roasted red peppers.

For this week's rotation of spreads, I made a version with Poblano peppers. And I was wondering what to call it. My hypotheses was that the name of the dip came from the Walnuts but I was so wrong. Muhammara means  'Of red color' - at least according to Google. 'Mu' is a prefix in Arabic.
'Ahmar' is the word for red. So  would I call it "Akhdara"? Muakhdara?

Language lesson done, here is the recipe. It is pretty delicious whatever you choose to call it - Smoky, spicy and creamy with walnuts.

Here is the recipe


makes enough to fill a 12 oz mason jar. 
keeps in fridge for a week. can be frozen.

3 fresh Poblano/Pasilla peppers
1 small clove of garlic
Tiny finger pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp toasted ground cumin
1 tsp of Agave nectar
1 tbsp lime juice (roughly half a lime juiced)
1 cup of walnuts
2 tbsp Olive oil
salt to taste

Roast the peppers. You can do it by placing it directly on a gas flame. Cook on one side for 3 minutes, turn the pepper and cook on all sides till the skin is blackened. Or you could broil it in a toaster oven for about 10 -20 minutes. 
Put the peppers in a bowl and cover with a lid and allow to steam for at least 15 minutes. Peel when cool enough to handle and discard the skin.

Toast the walnuts. If you have a microwave, put the walnuts on a paper towel and cook in 30 second bursts  till the walnuts smell nice and toasty. Otherwise you can do this in a dry skillet on a medium flame. Stir constantly for about 8 minutes or so until the walnuts smell toasty and just begin to release oil.

Blend the peppers, red pepper flakes, garlic, cumin, lime juice, salt and Agave to a coarse puree. I used a food processor.  See notes below if you want to do it by hand*. Add the walnuts and pulse till they are chopped up to a grainy structure. Taste. It should taste smoky and the pepper should be the dominant flavor. Adjust salt, lime and Agave to balance out the flavors if necessary. 

Transfer to a bowl, top with the Olive oil and serve with  Carrots as a dip. Makes an excellent sandwich spread too.

*If you are using a mortar and pestle, start with the garlic and some salt, mash to a paste and then add the other ingredients. Or  you could chop it fine on a cutting board.

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