Muhamara Recipe for the Syrian Walnut Roasted Red Pepper Dip from Aleppo

Muhammara Recipe for Syrian Walnut Roasted Red Pepper Dip from Aleppo

This post may contain paid links. If you make a purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission.

Our muhammara recipe makes the delicious Syrian walnut roasted red pepper dip from Aleppo. A traditional muhammara is a smoky, savoury, sweet, and subtly spiced dip that’s served as part of a spread of mezze or appetisers eaten with warm pita-style flatbread. While muhammara hails from the Northern Syria city, it’s served right across the Middle East.

This easy muhammara recipe will make you the famous Syrian walnut and roasted red pepper dip from Aleppo that we fell in love with on our first trip to Syria many years ago. It’s one of our favourite Middle Eastern recipes. Our recipe is based on the official Aleppo muhammarra recipe from the Academie Syrienne Gastronomie (Academy of Syrian Gastronomy), with just a couple of tweaks.

If you haven’t tasted muhammara before, it’s a deliciously smoky, savoury, sweet, and subtly spiced dip that’s traditionally served as one of an array of mezze or starters that are typically eaten with warmed flatbread then left on the table to be enjoyed alongside plates of mains, such as grilled meats and kebabs.

While muhammara hails from Aleppo, it’s a staple mezze throughout Syria and you’ll also spot muhammara on the menus of Syrian restaurants and Arabic restaurants right across the Middle East and in the Middle Eastern diaspora, although outside Syria it’s nowhere near as ubiquitous as hummus, baba ganoush or mutabal. It should be!

But before I tell you about our muhammara recipe, I have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you’ve cooked our recipes and enjoyed them, please consider supporting Grantourismo. For instance, you could make a small donation to our epic Cambodian cookbook and culinary history on Patreon, for as little as the price of a coffee.

Another option is to use our affiliate partner links, below. We may earn a commission but you won’t pay extra. If you’re planning a trip, you could use our links to buy travel insurance, book flights with CheapOair, Kiwi.com or Etihad; book transfers, accommodation and car rentals on Agoda, Expedia, Wotif, lastminute.com, ebookers, or Trip.com; book a beautiful apartment or home on PLUM; book tickets and activities on Get Your Guide; buy train tickets on RailEurope, bus and train tickets on 12Go; or book a cooking class or meal with locals on EatWith.

Lastly, you could buy a handcrafted KROK, the best mortar and pestle ever; buy something on Amazon, such as these cookbooks for culinary travellers, James Beard award-winning cookbooks, cookbooks by Australian chefs, classic cookbooks for serious cooks, and gifts for Asian food lovers and picnic lovers; or browse our Grantourismo store for gifts for food lovers designed with Terence’s images. Now let me tell you all about our Syrian muhammara recipe.

Muhammara Recipe for Syrian Walnut Roasted Red Pepper Dip from Aleppo

Our easy authentic muhammara recipe will make you the wonderful Syrian walnut and roasted red pepper dip that Terence and I became smitten with on our first trip to Syria many years ago – a winter holiday we took soon after we moved to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

One of the things we loved about living in the UAE were all the holidays we had – along with the fact that within a few hours we could be in the Levantine countries of Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. We took advantage of that and every chance we had we were on a plane to Beirut, Damascus or Amman – or Cairo, Muscat or Doha. But it was the Levant we really fell in love with.

Beirut, Damascus and Aleppo quickly became our favourite cities and a few years later we found ourselves authoring the first edition Syria and Lebanon Lonely Planet guidebook. This was well before the 2006 bombing of Beirut, which Tony Bourdain, who was there to shoot No Reservations, said changed him forever; and long before the Syrian civil war, which began in early 2011, and destruction of beautiful Aleppo from 2012-16.

I’ll never forget our first impressions of Damascus, the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city. It was a city like no other. History oozed from every ancient brick and every antique ceramic tile. It was a place untouched by tacky Western commercialism. Education, culture, literature, music, and art were prized above all else, and the people we met were the warmest and most welcoming we’d met in the world.

That first night in the Syrian capital, we asked the hotel to book us a table at the best restaurant in Damascus. It was Elissar, meaning ‘the wanderer’, named after a Phoenician princess who was known as Dido in ancient Greek mythology. Located in a grand centuries-old Damascene mansion near Bab Touma in the old Christian quarter, Elissar was magical.

The place to sit was in the atmospheric main dining space in the buzzy courtyard, with its white marble floors, intricately carved wooden ceilings, and a tinkling fountain at the centre. Fragrant jasmine wafted from vines that hung from the floor above and in between crackling old recordings of the melancholic songs of the iconic Feyrouz, an oud player performed the nostalgic music of Syria’s legendary Farid al Atrache.

Muhamara Recipe for the Syrian Walnut Roasted Red Pepper Dip from Aleppo

Busy with well-off Damascene diners, the tables were too close together – ideal for eavesdropping on conversations that shifted easily between French and Arabic. The gentlemen, in suit jackets, sipped glasses of milky arak and water, while the elegantly dressed, perfectly-coiffed women wore pearls and puffed fruit-scented shisha from nargileh pipes while grazing on plates of mezze.

Just as memorable as the ambiance was the food – from the small bowls of comforting Syrian coral lentil soup and the piping-hot crispy kebbe filled with peppery lamb mince and pine nuts to the succulent garlicky shish taouk. But the most unforgettable dish was the rich, roasted red pepper dip called muhammara, which glistened with extra virgin olive oil.

“Muhammarah – excellent!” I wrote in my notebook on the night. “Dried breadcrumbs, walnuts, red pepper, pomegranate, lemon, and olive oil” were the key ingredients according to the waiter, who we’d asked to kindly request the recipe from the chef.

After that night we ordered muhammara every chance we had – which was essentially every meal we had. Because whenever we asked a waiter for suggestions, the first mezze they’d recommend was muhammara, which was more popular in Syria than hummus. Muhammara is essentially the quintessential Syrian mezze.

Whenever we returned to Syria after that first holiday, whether it was for work or pleasure, the first thing we’d do was head to the nearest restaurant and the first dish we’d order was muhammara. I miss Syria and think about Syria a lot – and not just muhammara and Syrian food. I think about all those warm, welcoming Syrians we met over the years, especially when we cook and eat Syrian food.

Tips to Making this Muhammara Recipe for a Walnut Roasted Red Pepper Dip

I only have a few tips to making this muhammara recipe for the Syrian walnut and roasted red pepper dip from Aleppo. We make hummus frequently, but we rarely make muhammara. Fresh walnuts are hard to come by in Cambodia, and when they’re available walnuts are expensive, and the pomegranate season is short.

But when pomegranates are in season and in the markets, and we can source fresh quality walnuts, the first thing we do is make muhammara. Our muhammara recipe for the Syrian walnut and roasted red pepper dip is based on the Academie Syrienne Gastronomie muhammara recipe.

Some years after our first holiday in Syria, on a trip to Damascus and Aleppo to interview Syrian chefs for food stories we were researching for Middle East magazines, we learnt about the work of the Aleppo-based Academie Syrienne Gastronomie.

The mission of the Academy of Syrian Gastronomy was to document the most authentic Syrian recipes on their site. Tragically, little did they know, little did any of us know at the time, was that a civil war would break out in Syria the following year and everything would change.

There are just two differences between the official muhammara recipe on the Syrian Gastronomy site and our own recipe. Firstly, the Academie Syrienne Gastronomie muhammara recipe calls for 50g sweet red pepper paste, which used to be easy to find at markets in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.

We’ve assumed that most of our readers won’t be able to buy sweet red pepper paste from a local market, so I’ve described how to roast red bell peppers or red capsicums. If you can source sweet red pepper paste by all means use 50g in this recipe.

The only other difference is that the first step of the official muhammara recipe calls for 100g breadcrumbs to be soaked in 150ml water before it’s combined with the other ingredients. I tested this, however, it resulted in a very wet dip with a thin consistency that in no way resembled the muhammara dips that we know and love from Syria.

This muhammara recipe results in that muhammara mezze that we fell in love with in Syria all those years ago. If you’ve spent time in Syria and you’re also a muhammara lover, we’d love to know what you think.

Muhammara Recipe for the Syrian Walnut Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Muhamara Recipe for the Syrian Walnut Roasted Red Pepper Dip from Aleppo

Muhammara Recipe for Syrian Walnut Roasted Red Pepper Dip from Aleppo

This classic muhammara recipe makes the traditional Syrian walnut roasted red pepper dip from Aleppo. Muhammara is a smoky, savoury, sweet, and subtly spiced dip that’s served as part of a spread of mezze or appetisers eaten with warm pita-style flatbread.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course starter, appetiser
Cuisine Syrian, Middle Eastern
Servings made with recipe1 Bowl
Calories 2061 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 2 red capsicums - bell peppers
  • 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 100 g breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground Aleppo pepper – or dried chilli flakes or chilli powder
  • 100 g walnuts - crushed
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate syrup
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Extra crushed walnuts for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F). Slice the red capsicums (bell peppers) in halves, scoop out the seeds, cut off the stalks, and slice each half into thirds. Lay the capsicum slices onto an oven tray covered with baking paper, roast for 20 minutes or so until blistered, charred and soft.
  • Remove the capsicum pieces from the oven, allow them to cool then wipe them with paper kitchen towels to remove all the charred skin.
  • To a blender or food processor, add the roasted red capsicum, extra virgin olive oil, breadcrumbs, cumin, Aleppo pepper, walnuts, pomegranate syrup, lemon juice, sugar, and salt, and blend for a minute or two until well combined. If too dense, add a little more olive oil and blend again.
  • Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate if not eating immediately. Before serving, swirl a spoon through the dip to create ridges, sprinkle on some crushed walnut pieces and drizzle on some extra virgin olive oil.

Nutrition

Calories: 2061kcalCarbohydrates: 134gProtein: 32gFat: 163gSaturated Fat: 20gPolyunsaturated Fat: 59gMonounsaturated Fat: 77gSodium: 1943mgPotassium: 1240mgFiber: 17gSugar: 42gVitamin A: 7524IUVitamin C: 312mgCalcium: 340mgIron: 12mg

Please do let us know if you make our muhammara recipe as we’d love to hear how it turns out for you.

SHARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Lara Dunston Patreon

AUTHOR BIO

Photo of author
A travel and food writer who has experienced over 70 countries and written for The Guardian, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Feast, Delicious, National Geographic Traveller, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, DestinAsian, TIME, CNN, The Independent, The Telegraph, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, AFAR, Wanderlust, International Traveller, Get Lost, Four Seasons Magazine, Fah Thai, Sawasdee, and more, as well as authored more than 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Footprint, Rough Guides, Fodors, Thomas Cook, and AA Guides.

Leave a comment

Recipe Rating