Muhammara Is The Middle Eastern Dip That Takes Sweet-And-Savory To New Levels

Hummus may get all the attention, but when it comes to Middle Eastern dips, sweet and tangy muhammara is the real showstopper. Originating from Aleppo, Syria, muhammara is now found across the Mediterranean world, especially in neighboring countries like Lebanon and Turkey. Like hummus or baba ganoush, muhammara is a popular addition to any meze (collections of small plates and dips that serve as appetizers and light meals in Middle Eastern cuisine). Of all those dips, muhammara is the most striking, with its name being a description of the deep red color that comes from its primary ingredients. But muhammara's flavor and texture are not any less remarkable than its appearance.

Muhammara recipes can vary, like any traditional dish, but it's built around four main ingredients: roasted red peppers, Aleppo peppers, pomegranate molasses, and walnuts. It's blended with olive oil and can also include flavorings such as lemon juice, garlic, and cumin. However, muhammara's unique taste all comes from the combination of savory roasted peppers and walnuts along with the sour and lightly sweet notes from the molasses. Aleppo pepper is a regional specialty with a fruity undertone and strong earthy taste. The walnuts provide a nice extra textural bite as well. Compared to the more mild nutty and bean flavors of other meze dips, muhammara is bright, complex, and intensely flavored. It doesn't need to be served with anything more than a simple, soft pita to be delicious.

Muhammara will enliven spreads and sandwiches

Although the classic way to serve muhammara, much like other Middle Eastern dips, is with fresh pita or crunchy pita chips, you can also use it as a dip for fresh veggies like cucumber and carrot sticks. It can stand alone as an appetizer or be paired with other meze dishes like grape leaves, tabbouleh salad, and olives. Alongside more filling options like ful medames or crunchy falafel, it can easily become the basis of a whole meal. Beyond dipping, it can also be used as a condiment for Mediterranean wraps. The sweet and spicy combo is a particularly great complement to some charred kabobs of chicken or lamb.

You don't need to stop at Middle Eastern favorites, either, as muhammara's flavor can toss a tasty curveball into all sorts of dishes. Playing off kabobs, it will make a great topping for roasted meats, where its fruity, sour taste adds a completely new dimension. The crunch of the walnuts makes it a great candidate for adding some texture to sandwiches. Pita and muhammara can even be turned into a flatbread pizza, topped with fresh veggies and a crumbled cheese like feta. With a dish as special as muhammara, you're not likely to find an end to the options anytime soon.