- The Dish: Muhammara
- The Place: Arabica, SE1
- The Chef: James Walters
What? Muhammara (you say it mmmhamra) is a red dip from Aleppo in Syria, made from fresh or dried peppers (the vegetables), Aleppo pepper (the seasoning), ground walnuts, breadcrumbs and olive oil, and garnished with mint leaves. It can also contain garlic, salt, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and other spices. Aside from being a Syrian staple, it’s used in Turkish and Levantine cuisines (food from Israel, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Jordan) as a dip, an accompaniment or in meze platters.
Where? It got a PR boost last November from the #CookforSyria campaign, which started as a supper club and eventually raised £300k by getting more than 50 top restaurants and over 200 supper clubs to cook Syrian dishes and donate a share of the proceeds to Unicef UK’s Children of Syria fund. Since then, you may have witnessed it gaining momentum on Instagram (it had garnered more than 10,000 hashtags at our last count), but should you want to sample it in real life, then Middle Eastern bar and restaurant Arabica, in Borough Market, is a great place to start. A self-proclaimed Levant specialist, they serve it up with flat bread for £6 a pop.
Meanwhile, Aphrodite’s in Forest Gate specialise in a pomegranate molasses ketchup (yes, that exists) and Lantana in Shoreditch offers a bubble and squeak with Cumberland sausage, poached egg, black pudding, muhammara and sautéed spinach.
Why? Even those hopelessly devoted to the beige beauty that is hummus will have to concede that this little number is tasty – sweet, sour and also a bit nutty. It’s also vegan friendly and oh so versatile. Eat as part of a meze dish, or with everything from crudités and kebabs to cold meats and fish.