Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pepper-Walnut Dip (Muhammara or Acuka)

A favorite classic from my husband's childhood. The recipe belongs to my mother-in-law: It was one of those times when I watched her prepare/cook food and wrote down my notes and measurements (since she eyeballs everything). I'm glad that this recipe will hopefully get to live on.

This spicy hot appetizer is called Muhammara in Syria and Southern/Southeastern regions of Turkey while it is known as Acuka in other parts of Turkey.

Ingredients: (Makes about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 7 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 3 tablespoons mild pepper paste
  • 1/4 heaping teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon each of the following spices: Sumac, ground black pepper, dried oregano, dried mint
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 7 oz. (about 200 gr.) walnut, finely chopped
  • Crackers/pita chips/toasted bread, for serving


  • In a bowl, mix garlic, pepper paste, spices, breadcrumbs and lemon juice.
  • Add olive oil and mix well.
  • Lastly, add the walnuts and mix to combine.
  • Serve w/ chips etc.

Additional points:

  • The best way to mix this dip is just to go in with your hands and kind of knead it to combine. Just wear disposable latex gloves when mixing; I always keep them in my pantry.
  • Above recipe combines mild pepper paste w/ a good amount of crushed red pepper flakes for heat. Instead, you can also use hot pepper paste and reduce/omit the amount of pepper flakes (or not-if you want an even hotter dip!)
  • The size of the chopped walnuts matters a great deal for the right consistency. The dip should not feel "completely pasty" or "crunchy"; the walnuts should not be ground, nor should they be coarse, but they should have a presence. The size of the chopped walnuts should be about the size of coarse bulgur grains.

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