When it comes to Middle Eastern spreads, the nation’s favourite chickpea-based dip, hummus, gets all the glory – but lovers of the beige paste are having their heads turned by a new contender: Muhammara.
A red-hot concoction that originates from Aleppo, Syria, it’s often found in Levantine and Turkish cuisines but thanks to its dynamic flavour and versatility, it’s also been making waves in the UK of late too. It’s popping up more and more on London brunch menus, and that usually means it’ll dominate the rest of the UK very soon.
At the most basic level, muhammara is a combination of roasted red peppers, walnuts, and olive oil while some recipes call upon the addition of Aleppo pepper, garlic, toasted nuts and pomegranate molasses.
The fiery dip, which takes just five minutes to make, has quickly become a favourite of London restaurants including Eastern Mediterranean joint Aphrodites in Forest Gate.
“It’s this completely delicious dip, it’s vegan and it’s so easy,” chef Dixie Innes told Munchies.
“It’s quite an intense, sweet and sour flavour and then you’ve got this really lovely nuttiness which gives it body.”
A versatile spread that can be served with almost anything muhamarra super-fan Rachel Hosie says she enjoys hers with everything from crudités to scooped up with flatbread.
“I love muhammara! I’m excited to see it popping up on more menus such as Lantana in London, where one of their brilliant brunch dishes is bubble and squeak with cumberland sausage, poached egg, black pudding, muhammara and sautéed spinach,” she told The Independent.
“I don’t know if it’s better than hummus but it’s definitely up there and should be more popular in my opinion!“
The lesser-known sibling of baba ganoush and hummus, the spicy, vegan dip has also gained momentum on social media as users take to Instagram to share their own creations.
“When real dips with serious taste come to life – smoked bell peppers with a ton of walnuts and spices, but pomegranate molasses is the key behind the exquisite taste,” one user wrote.
Another added, “I used ground walnuts because the slightly bitter flavour contrasts perfectly with the peppers. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and you’ve got a lovely dish for the mezze table.”