Sometimes I think that cloning is the only way forward.
I’d go all out and order a job lot of 12 clones of myself, which might be just enough to go around. I would place one of those clones exclusively on blog-reading duty, so that I could properly keep up with all of the other blogs that I (attempt to) read. What bliss that would be.
Meanwhile it’s just me, myself and I, snatching a few hours here and there in an attempt to take in what the populace of blogland is up to. What’s interesting, what’s new or old-but-new-to-me, what’s entertaining, what’s challenging, what’s something that I must try someday, what’s something that I’d simply never have thought of and what’s something that requires that I drop everything and go make it. I had one of those drop-everything moments this weekend when I read The Duo Dishes post about Muhammara. Er, moo who?
Muhammara is a middle eastern dip involving roasted red peppers. I can’t put my finger on quite what it was that provoked such an immediate reaction, leading me to
leave the building get dressed properly and then leave the building in search of red peppers. Perhaps it was a minor rebellion against the vegetables in the garden – I mean, I love ya lads but I also need a little variety in my diet.
So it was that peppers were acquired and roasted, a taster batch of the dip made and eaten almost as quickly. I had been right to drop everything. I had a new favourite thing to make.
A word about pomegranate molasses, which is basically concentrated pomegranate juice. It’s syrupy and tangy and makes a lovely addition to this dip (in fact, you might like to add more than specified) but don’t let the fact that you don’t have any put you off. You could try adding some pomegranate juice instead or try either tamarind paste or amchoor (dried mango powder) which seem to me to have a similar tang. Or you can just leave it out. It’ll still be tasty.
As for the roasted red peppers, you can, of course, buy a jar of same and be done with it. On the other hand, you can go all out and roast your own (see below) which will be even nicer.
On the garlic front, I tend to steer clear of using a lot of raw garlic, so I used less than the Duo (and also tried substituting roasted garlic, which is a lot mellower). Feel free to increase the garlic content if that’s your thing.
- 500g roasted peppers (see below)
- 75g walnuts
- 1 clove raw garlic or 6 cloves roasted garlic (see below)
- 3 tblsp breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp pomegranate molasses
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 0.25 tsp cayenne pepper
- 0.25 tsp cinnamon
- 0.5 tsp cumin
- 2 tblsp olive oil
- coarse salt to taste
- Put the walnuts and raw garlic, if using, in a food processor and blend until they resemble fine crumbs.
- Add the roasted peppers, roasted garlic (if using) and breadcrumbs and blend until the mixture forms a paste.
- Add the cayenne, cinnamon, cumin, lemon zest and juice and pomegranate molasses and blend until incorporated.
- Drizzle in the olive oil until smooth, adding more if necessary to reach a consistency you like.
- Add coarse salt to taste.
- Grab some pita breads and eat.
- The first time I made this, I actually used a bit less than half the amount of roasted peppers specified (only because I roasted the peppers myself and forgot to account for the fact that they lose a lot of weight through roasting). However I liked that version a lot – it’s less overtly peppery and still very tasty.
- Chances are that this will make less than you’ll want to eat.
Roasted Red Peppers
There is endless instruction to be had on the internet about how to roast peppers and you’ll find a number of different schools of thought. Some tell you to hold the peppers directly over an open flame (on your gas hob or other flame throwing device), charring the pepper very well on all sides. Some say to char the peppers under your grill element / broiler. Others just roast them in the oven and still others use variations involving a combination of the above. Now, I haven’t spent ages trying out all the different methods but let me just say that the oven method works for me. Not least because I do not have a gas hob, so access to an open flame presents certain logistical difficulties. It’s also easier to use the oven if you’ve got lots of peppers to roast.
- As many peppers as you want to roast
- Preheat your oven to 180C
- Leave your peppers whole and place them in the oven on one or more baking sheets (which you can line with foil if you want to avoid some mess later).
- Roast the peppers for around 45 minutes or until they start to blister and blacken in parts, turning them over occasionally.
- Remove from the oven and either place the peppers into a bowl and cover with cling film or into a plastic bag and seal. You want to leave them like that for at least 15 or 20 minutes, until they have cooled enough to handle and the trapped steam will have helped to loosen the skins.
- Now drain the peppers and slice them open, scraping out the seeds and slipping the skin off. This part is sticky and messy, but the results are worth it.
- If you’re aiming to end up with a certain weight of roasted peppers, you’ll need to start with slightly more than double that weight of raw peppers. So, to end up with 500g of roast peppers, you’d need to start with around 1.1kg of raw peppers
- As many heads of garlic as you want to roast
- Olive oil
You’ll also need:
- Aluminum foil
- Preheat your oven to 180C
- Remove the outer papery bits of the garlic skin and slice off the top of each head so that the tops of the cloves are exposed.
- Wrap each head in a piece of foil, pouring a little olive oil over the garlic before closing the foil over.
- Place in the oven until the cloves are soft – 30-40 minutes or more, depending on your oven. The cloves should slip out easily from their skins when done.
- Add to dips or try adding a few roasted cloves next time you’re mashing spuds.
- As much roasted garlic as you require for your dining pleasure.