Nida Degutiene’s Muhammara (Walnut and sweet pepper paste)


4 large, fleshy sweet peppers

1 whole red chilli

2 slices stale whole wheat bread, crust removed

175g shelled walnuts

1 clove garlic, finely minced

2 tablespoons pomegranate syrup (can be substituted with sweet balsamic vinegar)

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon sugar

½-1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cumin

125mL extra virgin olive oil

4-5 sprigs chopped fresh parsley



Grill the sweet peppers and hot chilli on a hot barbeque until they are blackened on all sides and the skin starts to split. Alternatively, roast the peppers in a hot oven, as close to the element as possible, for about 3o minutes, until the peppers soften and the skin split. To make peppers easier to peel, while they are still hot place them in a sealed container or a plastic bag for about 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel away the skins and remove the seeds and membranes.

Tear the bread into small pieces. Place the bread, grilled and peeled peppers and chilli, walnuts and minced garlic into a bowl of food processor. Pour in the pomegranate concentrate or vinegar and the lemon juice, then sprinkle in the sugar, salt and cumin. Pulse until the mixture forms a uniform consistency. With the food processor still running pour in a thin stream of oil until the mixture thickens to a creamy consistency. Serve garnished with chopped fresh parsley.