Muhammara (Spicy Walnut Paste)

Apr 22, 2010 by Susana Fare

This delicious Turkey relish is called Muhammara. It can be served as a dip with bread, or it can accompany a salad.

This relish or dip are part of the little dishes of the eastern Mediterranean called Meze or Mezze, depending on the region. Its origin may have been from the Persian word maza, which means relish or taste; and it’s eaten in Syria and Lebanon. In other parts of the Middle East, it’s called Mezze.

Its tradition has a long history–it was used by Greeks, Romans and Persians, and in medieval times, by the Arabs and Ottomans. Indeed, only noblemen, kings and sultans could afford to eat it. Just recently, its popular again. 

The literal translation of meze is a “pleasant taste,” meaning something tasty. Meze can range from very simple, such as a bowl of fruit, a salad, or a dip to a refined, sophisticated, and technically complicated plate.

But its always used in a small dish to stimulate the appetite for the main dish. It can also be served cold or warm. In Turkey, it’s usually served with wine or spirits like raki–an anise flavored spirit commonly consumed there.

Meze can also include meat.

As a vegetarian who is concerned about nutrition and healthy living, I make the dip with walnuts, because they have the highest level of omega-3 fats compared to any other nut. A one ounce serving provides two hundred percent of its recommended daily dosage. They’re also a good source of B vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Because walnuts resemble a human brain, many cultures have used it as a “brain food.” –Excerpt from “101 Foods That Could Save Your Life” book

This spicy walnut dip can be served with flat bread or as an accompaniment for salad. It’s traditionally made with pomegranate syrup that’s found in Middle Eastern and some Indian stores. Current versions often use lemon juice. So the different ways to make and eat it are totally up to you!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups walnuts
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 slice whole wheat bread, crust removed and toasted
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate syrup (or 4 tsp pomegranate juice + 2 tbsp sugar or lemon juice)
  • A pinch of chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp sugar

Directions:

Blend all ingredients together to a paste in a food processor. Add more juice if necessary. Spread over flat or whole wheat bread.

Serves: 6 to 8

Note: all ingredients could be blend together in a food processor. It is traditional to use the mortar and pestle that releases the natural oils and flavors from the nuts and provides the finished taste.

If you want or need more vegetarian recipes or instructions on different dishes, you can find them here, or at my blog Spanish Steps.

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