Friday, February 17, 2017

Muhammara made with red pepper paste – a really easy version!

I’m always amazed when I get an Armenian Kitchen email from someone I knew from my childhood. One such email reached me recently from John, an old family-friend. I really knew his two older sisters better, as they were closer to my age.

The Armenian Kitchen's Muhammara  
John asked me for some advice on making muhammara using commercially prepared red pepper paste which is sold in most Middle Eastern stores.
John’s request:
“I'm currently attempting to make Muhammara from jarred pepper paste.  I definitely want to use your recipe, and was wondering how to equate the 2 eight ounce jars of roasted red peppers in your recipe to prepared pepper paste.  I was going to make an educated guess, but then thought it would be better to check with you.”

My Response:
“I see no reason why you couldn't make it using red pepper paste. I would suggest experimenting a bit.
The paste would have to be thinned-out with some water to a spreadable, rather than a pourable consistency. Since the paste is generally made with only red peppers and salt (unless it's the hot version), combine the thinned paste with the rest of the ingredients that are listed in the recipe. It's best made in advance so the flavors can blend.”

After making the modified-version muhammara, John wrote:
“Made the muhammara today for a party tomorrow.  Used toasted pine nuts as well as a handful of walnuts, panko, thick cherry balsamic (substitute for pomegranate), lemon juice, olive oil, water, and a jar of spicy pepper paste (700g or 1lb 8.6 oz.).  The muhammara tastes good, and seems to improve by the hour.  Will send you a photo (in serving dish) tomorrow.”

After the party, John sent me the photo of the finished product (see below), and guest evaluation.
John's Muhammara made with jarred red pepper paste

Here’s what he said:
“The muhammara was much redder in person (than in the photo). The guests did like it, despite vying for attention with two types of homemade hummus as well as string cheese. 

I don't think I put enough water in the muhammara - it became a little too thick over night, probably because of the panko.  Lesson learned.  But, the taste was great.  Thanks for the coaching!”

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