Quick Vegan Muhammara recipe using pomegranate and roasted red bell peppers. Its a healthy appetizer that hits the spot. Put it into wraps, bread, pita sandwich or dip pita chips in it for the perfect light lunch
Have you tried muhammara before?
This is a spicy appetizer common in Turkey cuisine. Traditionally, its made with 3 ingredients: red pepper, walnuts and bread crumbs.
I tasted once in my life on a night that included belly dancers!
My first taste of Muhammara
It was a rainy Sunday night in the lower East side. There was a Turkish restaurant that used to have belly dancers on Sunday and a friend suggested going there.
We walked in and were immediately greeted with a very festive atmosphere which included traditional music while a belly dancer did her dance.
It was an amazing night where my friends got to eat all kinds of recipe from their menu.
There wasn’t much I could eat from the menu, but, I was able to enjoy muhammara which is vegan friendly. I have a thing for spicy food, so, it wasn’t a surprise that I fell in love with the flavors.
P/s: Have you checked out my guide on what vegans cannot eat?
But, somehow, that night was quickly forgotten by me over a decade until…
I follow Mike of Chili Pepper Madness blog because the man knows his chili peppers! His love for peppers is infectious, so, I love going through his recipes and make them when I have a true hankering for peppers.
Recently, Mike posted his recipe for muhammara and when I saw it, all the memories of that rainy night came back to me instantly!
All the wonderful music, belly dancers and food memories came flooding back. Most of all, I remembered how much I had loved tasting muhammara
So, I just had to make my own version of muhammara which is an homage to this wonderful appetizer and that fun night
Tips for Making Muhammara
1) Use red bell pepper only for this recipe and roast it in the oven first. The red bell pepper should be roasted just enough so that the skin peels off easily
2) In my version, I use pomegranate seeds which adds an exotic flavor to the recipe. Do not skip this ingredient
3) I used homemade panko breadcrumbs in this recipe. If you are able to, please use freshly made bread crumbs.
4) Traditionally, this recipe calls for using alepo red pepper. I couldn’t find them here, so, I used (affiliate link) dried red chili pepper. Cut the chili pepper in half and discard the seeds inside
5) If you don’t have dried chili peppers, you can always use (affiliate link) crushed red pepper
Traditional Muhammara Ingredients
– Red peppers
– Lemon juice
Using these ingredients, the recipe is more of a red pepper paste and less of a dip. Its comes out as very dark red color which is where it gets its name. Muhammara translates as “reddened”. Source: Wikipedia.
Other Ingredients to Add to Muhammara
I am always looking to change up traditional recipes. Whereas muhammara is great with its traditional ingredients, I think it can be even better with extra ingredients. Here are the other ingredients I added to my muhammara recipe
– Cumin powder
– Red onions
– Roasted red bell pepper
This recipe was also another excuse for me to use my favorite new spice. Za’atar has taken over my life and I seem to put it in everything. The other day, I put it into a traditional tea recipe which was good but needs some tweaking.
The best part of this recipe is the roasted red bell peppper. If you happen to have more bell peppers lying around, roast more and use them in a tasty mozzarella cheese sandwich.
You can add any ingredient in this recipe, so, experiment further and let me know what you put in your recipe. I am going to experiment with eggplant next time.
Yes, you can make it without breadcrumbs, but, it may not have the same texture or taste. Find something to give a similar texture to breadcrumbs. I think roughly chopped almonds would do the trick. You can also try canned beans like Navy beans. It will be more of a hummus recipe, but, its a great alternate to breadcrumbs.
What do you serve with muhammara?
My favorite way to use muhammara is in a pita bread. I fill the pita pocket with spinach, onions, pomegranate, roasted tofu cubes and muhammara. Its a delicious light lunch and happens to be healthy too.
Or dip homemade pita chips in the muhammara because the sweet and spice is a delicious combination.
In many ways, this muhammara recipe can be a substitute for hummus. Next time, I will make my hummus club sandwich with muhammara. I bet its going to be spicy good!
Can you freeze muhammara?
Yes, you should be able to freeze muhammara, but, you know what I am going to say, right?
Why freeze it when you can make it fresh!!
However, you can roast the bell pepper, remove skin, roughly chop it and freeze. When you are ready to make the muhammara, just dump the frozen bell pepper into the food processor with the other ingredients.
Step by Step of Making Muhammara
1) Preheat oven to 400°
2) Wash the bell pepper and dry it completely. I wrap it in aluminium foil, but, you can roast it without wrapping.
3) Place the bell pepper in the oven on a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes
4) Remove the skin and roughly chop it before adding to a food processor
5) Add breadcrumbs to the processor
6) Add turmeric
7) Add cumin powder
8) Add 4 cloves of garlic
9) Add red onions
10) Add Walnuts
11) Add Za’atar Spice
11) Add salt to the processor
12) Add Tahini (I used paste form of tahini)
13) Add nutritional yeast
14) Add dried red peppers
15) Add extra virgin olive oil
16) Add agave syrup to the food processor
17) Add balsamic vinegar to the food processor
18) Add pomegranate seeds
19) Finally, add lime juice to the food processor
20) Blend on low speed until everything is well blended
21) Serve this muhammara immediately
How to Make Muhammara
- 1 red bell pepper washed and dried
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup red onion roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup walnuts roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp za'atar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp tahini
- 3 dried chili peppers
- 1.5 tsp nutritional yeast
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp agave
- 2 tsp balsamic
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1 tsp lime juice
For Garnish (Optional)
- 1/4 cup green olives
- 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400°
- Wrap bell pepper in aluminum foil
- Place the bell pepper in the oven on a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes
- Remove the skin and roughly chop it before adding to a food processor
- Add all the remaining ingredients for the muhammara to the food processor
- Blend the ingredients on low speed until everything is well blended
- Transfer to serving bowl and serve immediately