I just like something really tasty to eat. Actually, I like it if I’m offered three or four small delicious plates from which I can choose. The way we eat has changed dramatically, far more appealing than the strict, formal, starter, main course and side dish. Relaxed dining with multiple dishes in the centre of the table connects people and invites conversation, don’t you think? I love to eat this way at the weekend with friends and family.
I adore the flavours of middle eastern cooking: garlic, spice and inevitably chilli, so when I need to up my vegetable intake, I’ll turn to this cuisine. Muhammara is the tastiest of dips. Sweet red peppers combined with tangy pomegranate molasses, breadcrumbs, buttery walnuts, garlic and cumin. A healthy dose of Aleppo pepper is also added, giving it a very spicy kick. Served with freshly baked pitta bread, is a wonderfully tasty starter or snack.
This is a great addition to a mezze table. I’m cutting back on meat and fish this month so I’ve prepared a vegan feast here.
Muhammara Dip with Pitta Bread
- 3 red peppers large or 4 small
- 4 Tbls breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp Aleppo chili pepper
- 1 clove garlic
- 50 g walnuts save a couple to garnish with
- 2 Tblsp olive oil
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2-3 Tbls pomegranate molasses
- 1 Tbls pomegranate seeds
- coriander & olive oil to garnish
- 500 g strong white bread flour
- 7 g sea salt
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 Tbls olive oil
- 25 g fresh yeast or 10g fast action dried yeast
- 400 ml warm water approx. (38C)
- Heat the oven to 225C. Place the peppers on a baking tray and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes to cook. The skin should blacken and blister. Once cooked place in a deep bowl and cover to steam for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime place all the other ingredients in the blender except the salt. If you’re feeling cautious don’t add all the Aleppo pepper. Once the peppers have cooled, peel and discard the skin and seeds. Place all but half a pepper and 2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses in the blender. Pulse and blitz until relatively smooth. Pour the muhammara into a bowl, chop the remaining half pepper finely and add with half of the salt, then check the seasoning. Add more salt, Aleppo pepper and molasses if required. Top with pomegranate seeds, chopped walnuts, coriander and a drizzle of olive oil. Set to one side until needed. Serve at room temperature.
- Place the flour into a large bowl and add the salt, stir to incorporate with your fingers. Measure out the warm water. Pour 120ml of the warm water into a separate bowl and add either the dried or fresh yeast, honey and olive oil. Stir and leave for 5-7 minutes. Now add this yeasty water to the flour, using your hand, add just enough of the remaining water to make a soft but not too sticky dough. You may not need all the water.
- Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes or until you have a smooth elastic dough.
- Place into an oiled bowl and cover and leave in a warm place until double in size OR you can place it in the fridge over night, this is called retarded proving.
- Set the oven to 230C or as high as it will go. place a large baking sheet in the oven.
- Once the dough has proved, knock it back and then divide into 10 balls. Cover with a tea towel and rest for 10 minutes.
- Now using a rolling pin roll each ball into approximately 13cm in diameter rounds, dust with flour and cover and leave to prove for a further 15-20 minutes.
- Working quickly place 3 or four pittas in the oven at a time, trying not to leave the door open too long. Bake until the pitta ‘balloons’ remove. Place in a clean tea towel while you cook the rest.
- Eat on the same day or they freeze incredibly well.