Like making hummus, muhammara whips up fast in a food processor. The ingredient list is simple, but each item is important in its own way and I do not recommend substitutions. The base of the dip is walnuts and roasted red peppers. If you want to save time, then use jarred roasted red peppers. Otherwise, you can roast red peppers under the broiler in your oven until tender and the skin is blackened. Remove the skins completely and rinse with water.
Another key ingredient is pomegranate molasses. This is a syrup made from the juice of pomegranates and is very popular in Middle Eastern cooking. It definitely gives the muhammara and specific fruity flavor and richness. I found pomegranate molasses at my grocery store – it will be located in the “ethnic” food isles. Otherwise you could purchase it online here.
One of the spices traditionally used is Aleppo pepper, which is a red pepper flake that is named after the Syrian city, Aleppo. It is about half as spicy as the typical chili pepper flakes here in America, but has much more flavor. It is a little bit smoky and it’s flavor really pulls through in the muhammara. It is definitely worth purchasing some because you can also use the pepper in many other ways, much like you would paprika. It was difficult to find in the grocery store. I could only find a very tiny amount at MOM’s Organic Market, so I would recommend stopping by a Middle Eastern grocery store or purchasing online, such as this one. I think you could substitute more paprika plus some ancho chili powder and have a similar flavor.
You also will need breadcrumbs. I make breadcrumbs using 2 slices of Eziekel bread. To do this, first toast the bread to dry it out a bit and let it cool. Then remove the crusts and rip it into a couple of pieces. Put the bread in the food processor and run until it is a medium to fine crumb. Now you can proceed by adding the remaining ingredients!