Muhammara With a Twist (Spicy Fermented Red Pepper Dip)


Muhammara is like a fancy, lesser known cousin to hummus and baba ganoush. It likely originated in Aleppo, Syria, but is used all over the Levant. It has a lot of ingredients but they’re perfectly balanced to create a distinct and absolutely delicious flavor. Once you go muhammara, you may never be able to limit yourself to your usual dips again!

The traditional method of dealing with the red bell peppers is to roast them in the oven long enough to easily remove the skins. Certainly I encourage you to try that method so you know the regular flavor.

However, I recently fermented the peppers (and garlic) instead of roasting them. The final flavor was similar but tangier and with some of the depth that only comes with fermentation. I don’t know if it’s better (they’re both awesome) but I definitely think as good and just gives a bit of a flavor switch-up. It will also help extend the shelf life even further. (Regular muhammara is usually good for a week; this version was still good after two weeks but I finished it by then… odds are it can go longer since lacto-fermentation helps stabilize oils & fats added post-fermentation.)

Directions for either method is offered here.


  • Blender or food processor
  • Knife & cutting board
  • Measuring cups & spoons

For fermenting the peppers & garlic:

For roasting peppers (instead of fermenting):

  • Oven pan or dish lined with aluminum foil
  • Olive oil to lightly coat the peppers
  • Plastic wrap (for use after roasting)


  • 2-3 bell peppers (2 if large, 3 for medium sized)
  • 3 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 lb. chopped walnuts (115g)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 TBSP tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs (preferably schnitzel style)
  • 2 TBSP pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tsp aleppo pepper
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (may need juice of the other half at end of blending, also can add 1 tsp zest as desired)
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chili powder (or sub with cayenne powder)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or salt to taste as needed if fermenting the peppers)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Garnish: top with more extra-virgin olive oil, finely chopped parsley, finely chopped walnut


If roasting the peppers: Pre-heat the oven to 425F. Rub the peppers in olive oil and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Turn them over half way through cooking. Afterwards, wrap them in saran wrap while hot and wait a few minutes. The steam will help loosen the skins. Once able to handle the peppers, pull off the skins, core and seed the peppers. Then follow the remaining steps below.

If fermenting the peppers: Combine 2 cups water with 1 TBSP pickling salt in a quart mason jar. Cover and shake vigorously until salt is completely dissolved. Transfer the water to another container. Halve or quarter the peppers and remove the seeds and stem. Place the 2 cloves chopped garlic in the jar, followed by the cut up red pepper. Place the fermentation weight over these items and then add the water until the items are well submerged and the water reaches near the shoulder of the jar. Close the lid and store at room temperature. Burp the jar every day for two weeks. After that time, the peppers and garlic can be used in the recipe whenever desired, or you may continue to ferment at room temperature indefinitely, They will continue to ferment and sour. The brine can be used in place of or in addition to the lemon juice in the recipe. 2 TBSP brine is roughly equivalent to juice of a half lemon.


1.) Place the peppers (either roasted or fermented as described above) and garlic (either raw or fermented) in the food processor or blender. Add the extra-virgin olive oil and juice of half a lemon. Blend on high for one minute.

2.) As needed, scrape down the sides of the blender or processor. Add the remaining ingredients and blend on high for two minutes. If you desire the paste to be looser and less dense, you may add the juice of the remaining half lemon or instead sub with 2 TBSP of the ferment brine.

3.) Remove the muhammara paste from the blender or processor and place in a storage container or serving bowl. May serve immediately but ideally store overnight for flavors to meld. At that time, use a spoon to dig a mote into the dip, and fill it with some good quality extra-virgin olive oil. Also can garnish with some shopped parsley and chopped walnut pieces. This will add depth of flavor and beautify the dip.

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