Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Urgent Muhammara help needed


Recommended Posts

I'm getting ready to make this for TG tomorrow.

The peppers are roasted.

Other ingredients being assembled.

Garlic - yes or no?

I've seen recipes with and without.

My other ingredients will be similar to what

Paula Wolfert posted in recipegullet -

breadcrumbs, red chili, walnuts, pomegranate molasses,

lemon juice, cumin, olive oil....

Thanks in advance

Milagai

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With all due respect to Wolfert and other food experts and for the record, there is no lemon juice or cumin as well!

It is anathema to have lemon juice clashing with peppers and with pomegranate molasses. As for cumin....plueaseeeeeee!

Having said that, there is a couple of other ingredients missing and as usual, one can amend a recipe ad nauseum which will not really change the real recipe which I am yet to eat in any restaurant even as some decide to mix different type of nuts and proclaim it is Mohamara.

And just to sound even more pedantic, breadcrumbs are a substitute to the real ingredient which Oh silly me I forgot what it was.

M'enfin!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am fairly sure this is a Southeastern Turkish invention. All of the recipes that I have seen, with the exception of a Lebanese recipe, contain lemon juice or vinegar.

All of the recipes, including the Lebanese recipe, contain cumin.

And, all of them contain either breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyhow, I made it, mostly per Wolfert's recipe.

The lemon juice and cumin definitely added good

things to the overall flavor - it would have been

very bland without them.....

Nicolai and Swisskaese - garlic yes or no?

Thanks for the input

Milagai

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a dish that is typically made at home and is made in most of the countries that comprised the Ottoman Empire. There are variations of this dip in each of those countries.

I pity the person that gets a Turkish, Syrian, Armenian and Lebanese cook in one room and ask them for their Muhammara recipe or any other recipe for that matter. :raz: It is actually quite entertaining.

Some of the recipes have onion and no garlic, some have only garlic and some have no onion and garlic.

Do what tastes good to you. There are no Muhammara police out there that are going to condemn you to hell for adding or deleting ingredients.

I make it with garlic because I put garlic in everything. :rolleyes:

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I pity the person that gets a Turkish, Syrian, Armenian and Lebanese cook in one room and ask them for their Muhammara recipe or any other recipe for that matter.

Muhammara is made in various ways in the eastern Mediterranean. In Lebanon, they often add yogurt, in Georgia, the pepper is muted and pomegranates and walnuts dominate, and in southeastern Turkey, where the dip has been equally popular it is sometimes made with tomato.

The recipe printed on eGullet comes from the town of Homs in Syria via the Sahadi Family Grocery Store in Brooklyn, NY. In my book, the recipe is credited to Christine Sahadi.

I chose to publish her version because it is uses roasted fresh bell peppers rather than dried Aleppo peppers which are costly and hard to find. Actually, most recipes call for the dried peppers.

In the original recipe, the breadcrumbs used were made from bread rusks. I found that stone-ground wheat-thin crackers provided that same wheaty flavor.

If you don't have the homemade, concentrated juice of an eastern Mediterranean pomegranate on hand, you will need to adjust the commerical kind with a little sugar and lemon.

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I said it before and will say it again.

Any recipe for any dish can be made in hundreds of iterations. This will not lessen the fact of the original recipe.

I have no idea what an orginal Goulash taste like although I tried trillions of variations. I do not know the original recipe of Spring Rolls or the true Tarte Tatin.

This will not change the fact that someone somewhere is smiling when reading recipes for Kimchi or a Bolognese sauce.

People will cook the dishes any way they want and will enjoy it.

Other people do care about what the original dish taste like and will go the extra mile to find out.

More so, when a dish is very particular to a certain territory or environment and Muhamara is one of these dishes.

You can cook it any way you want and add onions and call it Salsa. However, when you have the rare opportunity to taste the original version, then you will understand and it will be a revalation as this dish has been honed throughout centuries.

Tabboule is another dish which has been basterdised and available in endless variations. To taste good Tabboule, you have to follow certain ingredients and a Tabboule made with any tomatoe will not taste the same as made with the Lebanese Mountain variation. I can do nothing about it and one has to try it to understand. I still eat Tabboule with any rock tomatoes but I still can taste the difference.

I can taste a Chinese speciality or German or any other but will I be able to compare with the original recipe if I never tasted the original.

All what I can say is that the dish taste nice or good or not to my liking.

I was in Cairo over the week end and visited a fish restaurant in a five star studded hotel. We specifically asked for the old recipe of prawns in batter served with the Egyptian Tahineh version and this had to be prepared as off menu as people do not know, care or want such typical Egyptian dish which used to came wrapped with newspaper wrapping. We had to send back the hot puffed freshly baked bread and get the traditional Egyptian bread with the Egyptian Torchi (Pickles)!

If you don't know then you don't know and there is pride in learning.

I learn each day but my taste buds are accustomed to certain taste and dishes which are associated with the aroma of the food itself.

I will never be able to claim expertise on Chinese or Indian or other food, I will still eat it and enjoy it.

So in conclusion, Muhamara is a dish which is very tasty and unfortunately basterdised as of late in all restaurants. Neither Lebanon or Turkey have to do anything with it and it is only in the last decade that this dish was on the menus.

It is a typical Allepian dish and there is only one way of preparing it. And as you rightly mentioned in your post. Start with the correct unroasted peppers.

Then again, maybe Heinz or Nestle can have it produced in tubes and can take ownership of the dish.

T'will be a sad day.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I said it before and will say it again.

Any recipe for any dish can be made in hundreds of iterations. This will not lessen the fact of the original recipe.

I have no idea what an orginal Goulash taste like although I tried trillions of variations. I do not know the original recipe of Spring Rolls or the true Tarte Tatin.

This will not change the fact that someone somewhere is smiling when reading recipes for Kimchi or a Bolognese sauce.

People will cook the dishes any way they want and will enjoy it.

Other people do care about what the original dish taste like and will go the extra mile to find out.

More so, when a dish is very particular to a certain territory or environment and Muhamara is one of these dishes.

I am in total agreement about wanting to go the extra mile to find out what an original dish tastes like and I think I should have become an anthropologist instead of going into hi-tech, but when you have more than one country making the same dish and there are variations to this dish in each country, then whose is the original dish? You claim it is a traditional Allepian dish and others say it is from Southeastern Turkey. Who is right? Maybe the Allepian dish is a bastardization of the Turkish dish that was served when the Ottomans were in Syria? Is there any historical proof to either claim?

I deal with this problem all the time. I ask someone about a dish and they tell me it is Lebanese, then someone else tells me, no my Grandmother made that dish and it is Syrian, then I have someone else tell me, "What are you talking about?!, my mother makes that and it is Turkish." Do I start a food war and ask all them for written proof? Or, do I try each variation and decide which one or ones I like the best and shutup?

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, in certain cases it is confusing and in other cases it is straight forward.

Muhamara is an Allepian dish. It is common knowledge.

The peppers are Aleppo peppers so it can be hardly originating from anywhere else.

Now who and what you beleive is entirely your privilege.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As to expertise on the many variations on the theme of a host of recipes and the need for archaeologists, I think we will find no two people better qualified than Paula Wolfert and Claudia Roden. If any two people have gone "digging" for recipes and tracing their roots, those must be the two on the top of any list.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As to expertise on the many variations on the theme of a host of recipes and the need for archaeologists, I think we will find no two people better qualified than Paula Wolfert and Claudia Roden.  If any two people have gone "digging" for recipes and tracing their roots, those must be the two on the top of any list.

Very true. In my experience, Muhamarra always has garlic BTW. To it's origin I have no proof nor do I care much, but the best one I've ever had was made by an old friend of my dad's and he is from Aleppo. It was very garlicky and very spicy and unforgetable.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Moderator note: Let us please stick to the topic in the title. It really is very simple, and has a direct question in it. Any more ramblings off topic will be removed promptly.

Thanks

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

I'm preparing to co-host a Middle Eastern dinner, so I've been reading through this forum. I've read all the muhammara debate upthread, but alas, see no recipes.

I'd love to see the versions you guys were talking about. For example, the one I've always made claims to be Turkish, and contains

2 large red bell peppers

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 T hot pepper paste (or finely chopped chili, or 1/4 tsp cayenne)

3/4 C toasted breadcrumbs

3/4 C walnuts, ground

3 T lemon juice

2 tsp pomegranate syrup

1 T yogurt

1-2 tsp ground cumin seed

salt to taste

1/4 C olive oil

I didn't really realize there were so many variations and issues!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am a big fan of a garlic-free muhammara because the mixture improves so much with advance preparation. For example: three day old muhammara is good; five day old muhammara is even better; and seven day muhammara is out of this world. I'm not sure the same would be true if garlic was in the mix.

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes it is correct that Muhamarra taste matures over a period of few days as the heat goes down and the flavour intensifies.

As for the recipe, there is no garlic or onions or yoghurt or cumin or salt for that matter.

But by all means, feel free to add any ingredient you like but dont call it muhamarra!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The (Turkish) recipe that I use contains both garlic and onions, but uses walnut oil in addition to toasted ground walnuts and I think it's fantastic...happy to share, 'tho I can't tell you where I got it from... :blink:

ETA: And toasted/ground cumin seeds.

Edited by Curlz (log)

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Happy to share! I think this recipe has great depth b/c of the toasted walnuts and cumin seeds...I've been able to find the pom syrup and red pepper paste at a local (NJ) international market, and haven't used sourdough, but do make my own bread crumbs each time. I also double the recipe, and make it 48 hours before I want to serve it. Enjoy!

Muhammara

2 large sweet red peppers

1 T water

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

¾ cup walnuts, ground

¾ cup sourdough bread crumbs

2 – 3 T red pepper paste (or 1 or 2 red jalapenos, roasted, seeded and minced)

1 ½ t cumin seeds, toasted and ground

2 t pomegranate syrup

1 T lemon juice

1 T honey

½ - 1 t salt

2 T toasted walnut oil

Roast red peppers (and jalapenos, if using) over a grill, gas flame, or under the broiler, turning frequently until charred all over. Seal 10” in a plastic (or paper) bag. Peel and seed peppers.

Toast bread crumbs and walnuts in 350 degree oven until lightly browned. Toast and grind cumin seeds. In a food processor, chop onion. While the machine is running, toss in garlic cloves and mince. Add the red peppers and water and process to a moist paste. Add all other ingredients, except for the oil and process until pureed. While the machine is running, drizzle in oil. Let stand several hours or overnight for the flavors to blend and mature. Serve with flatbread or toasted pita wedges.

Note: If you don’t have pomegranate syrup, you can use extra lemon juice; the syrup is surprisingly sharp-flavored. You may also want to add a tablespoon of yogurt to the spread at the very end.

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Okay...this may get pulled (just remove it up to the line if necessary) but I find the sociology of food just as interesting as the food itself.

Foods develop; we should remember that what we are looking at is a slice of time. Does everyone in Aleppo make it exactly the same way, with exactly the same proprotions? Short of eating in every house in Aleppo, do we have any way of knowing if they do or don't? Can we really say a food has "nothing to do" with a place 50 km away where that food is also made and called by the same name, and has the same basic ingredients (if in different proportions or with the addition/subtraction of something)?

======================================

Here is a version from Antep, which is almost in Syria. Everyone calls it muhammara. I like it. :)

1 cup pepper flakes

1 cup walnut meats

1 slice dry bread, crust removed

1 c olive oil

1 T cumin :wink:

1 T pomegranate molasses or lemon juice

1 t sugar

Pound together in a mortar and pestle, or run it through the food processor. It tastes about the same as the version I've had in an Antep restaurant, Çiya.

Edited by sazji (log)

"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay...this may get pulled (just remove it up to the line if  necessary) but I find the sociology of food just as interesting as the food itself.

Foods develop; we should remember that what we are looking at is a slice of time. Does everyone in Aleppo make it exactly the same way, with exactly the same proprotions? Short of eating in every house in Aleppo, do we have any way of knowing if they do or don't? Can we really say a food has "nothing to do" with a place 50 km away where that food is also made and called by the same name, and has the same basic ingredients (if in different proportions or with the addition/subtraction of something)?

Food migrates and food taste evolves.

You will be very happy to have a Chicken Tika Masala in any London rest or anywhere else in the word but the native people of India will laugh their head off at the simple mention of the dish.

You can have Muhamara 50km from Aleppo or in the Outer Hebridies. The fact of the matter is to preserve the taste integrity of the dish, I would be delighted to have Muhamara made with Olive Oil, Pomegrenate, walnuts....etc from the same place and preferably eating in Aleppo as well.

This is quiet complicated and difficult and the solution is to adapt the dish to use ingredients from other sources. It will still be good but will never taste the same.

The dish originates from Aleppo and at least this should be established and recognized as such.

Would people care? Of course not.

I do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can have Muhamara 50km from Aleppo or in the Outer Hebridies. The fact of the matter is to preserve the taste integrity of the dish, I would be delighted to have Muhamara made with Olive Oil, Pomegrenate, walnuts....etc from the same place and preferably eating in Aleppo as well.

This is quiet complicated and difficult and the solution is to adapt the dish to use ingredients from other sources. It will still be good but will never taste the same.

The dish originates from Aleppo and at least this should be established and recognized as such.

Okay, this thread has me wanting to run buy a ticket to Aleppo and eat muhammara made by as many different people as possible. :)

We are dealing with two different issues here.

1) Are local ingredients important to the authenticity of a dish? Definitely. Or to put it another way, they are vital to awaken the "food memory" of a place. I make a Turkish dish based on pepper and tomato paste, red pepper flakes, walnuts and olive oil. In the states I can adapt it and get something quite close but without the pepper paste (which is also very variable and in which I have my preferences), and Marash or Antakya pepper, it will never be quite the same. (Which is why I take a kilo each of Marash and Urfa pepper with every trip home..)

2) Food chauvinism. Five ladies in Istanbul will each have their own variations on any dish, say acılı ezme (the dish I mentioned above). One will add mint. Another will not. Another will pound the walnuts fine, another will add onion. Which one is "the correct one?" They all exist side by side. I'll prefer the one with mint, I may not really get that "wow" from other versions. Should I go tell the others that theirs is not "the" acili ezme? No, because it would be based on my own preference, and it would be obnoxious. Some may "laugh their heads off" at a different version, but in my experience such laughter is imbued with sarcasm.

Perhaps it did originate in Aleppo. Was it simply invented one day in one form, and never change? Doubtful. Does every cook in Aleppo make it the same way? Also doubtful, as even in one city people have varying tastes; if they didn't, nothing would develop, change or evolve. If one of those cooks decides a little cumin would be nice, is it no longer muhammara? I would love to be a fly on the wall when you go and tell him/her.

It's easy to sit there and repeat claims, and denounce people's efforts/other versions. But aside from saying "everyone knows it," you have neither backed up your claims, nor provided a recipe of your own to help people at least get close. Are you trying to help? The provide something constructive. Despite being a bit tired of this behavior, I am very interested in tasting something close to an Aleppo-style muhammara; if you can provide a recipe I'll be grateful, and give a shopping list to a friend who goes regularly to Aleppo, though I may cheat and use Turkish walnuts. :)

Edited by sazji (log)

"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...