Restaurant Review and Recipe: Muhammara – Roasted Pepper and Walnut Dip

6 Jan

This is my version of the Muhammara (or hammara) roasted red pepper & walnut dip I had at the fantastic Lebanese restaurant in Malaga, Samarkanda.

Everything that we ordered was amazing. The hummos was the creamiest I have ever tasted and the baba ghanoush (or mutabak) had that deliciously intense smokiness that I can never replicate at home because I don’t have a gas hob to burn the aubergines over an open flame. The tabouli salad was heavy on the herbs, just how I like it and the cheese briwat (like a samosa) heavenly. The falafels were really good but a step to far I think. We ordered too much as usual, I got a bit excited and wanted everything.

This was the first time I had tried Muhammara in a restaurant. I have made it myself before and used it to stuff these Muhammara & Feta Cigars (gorgeous). Samarkanda’s muhammara was much sweeter than mine and it was lovely because of it. They had used cinnamon and I was desperate to get home and try it, none of the recipes I had seen used cinnamon but it made such a difference t o the flavour.

The restaurant is very unassuming from the outside, which translates as “it doesn’t look great”, the windows could do with a clean but the food is outstanding. I kind of like that, it’s like only the people in the know, know about it. But honestly more people should know about this place, I love it.

So much so that I went back the following week with my friend Caroline, she was desperate to try it after hearing me go on and on about how good the food was. She loved it too, we went for a wander around Malaga first and to Bodega El Pimpi for a little sherry aperitivo, it’s a must on any visit to Malaga and a local institition.

This all coincided very nicely with me picking up ten litres of new gorgeous, green, organic extra virgin olive oil from my friends Andrew & Margarita. They have quite a few olive trees and last year we helped with the olive harvest. You can read about the day and see some photos of how it’s done here. 

This year the olives were harvested on the 20th November (election day). The oil is a lot greener and fruitier than last year and it tastes amazing. I was desperate to use it to star in a recipe. This is perfect, the peppers & walnuts are blended to a puree with lots of olive oil and then when you serve it, it is drizzled with more, the fruitiness is lovely with the peppers.

Muhammara – Roasted Pepper & Walnut Dip

Makes 2 small jars, vegan.

Prep time: 10 minutes

  • 1 jar (about 250gr) roasted red peppers, buy ones with a few garlic cloves in the jar if you can
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves (if none in the jar with peppers), chopped
  • 50 gr (1/3 cup) toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 25 gr (2/3 cup)fresh breadcrumbs (I used panko)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp honey (or pomegranate molasses)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 110 – 165 ml (1/2 -3/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • sesame seeds

Tip the peppers, garlic, breadcrumbs, walnuts, lemon juice, honey, spices, salt & pepper into a food prcessor and blend until smooth. Drizzle the olive oil in slowly and keep blending until you get a consistency you are happy with.

Taste and adjust salt/honey/lemon juice to your liking and stir in the chopped parsley.

Serve at room temperature in a bowl drizzled with more olive oil sprinkled with sesame seeds a few parsley leaves.

This is amazing as part of a mezze or on its own with toasted pita or raw veggies for dipping…..

Samarkanda Lebanese restaurant is situated in Calle Denis Belgrano 23 in Malaga. You can get directions and more information here. Just to let you know I was in no way paid or reimbursed for writing this review. This represents my honest opinion, gorgeous food, windows could do with a clean though….. ; D


31 Responses to “Restaurant Review and Recipe: Muhammara – Roasted Pepper and Walnut Dip”

  1. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide January 6, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    Wow, everything looks and sounds just fabulous. We’re the same way with Indian food, have to have everything. Other cuisines we show more restraint, or at least try! Would love to have a Lebanese restaurant nearby.

  2. Steph@stephsbitebybite January 6, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    WOW! First off, the color is gorgeous! So vibrant!! Second, I want to dip tons of veggies in this, it sounds so good!

  3. peasepudding January 6, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

    Looks delicious, I have a jar of peppers in the fridge right now. The restaurant sound great, look flsh even from your pics, wish it wasn’t so far away.

  4. thekalechronicles January 6, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

    I buy pomegranate molasses just to make muhammara, but I have never had it with cinnamon in it. It is one of my favorite spreads.

  5. thebigfatnoodle January 7, 2012 at 12:54 am #

    I love your photos and as for the dip, i don’t even really like peppers but I actually think I’d love this!

  6. Emily @LivingLongfellow January 7, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    gorgeous photo collages. Love the colors!

  7. Chica Andaluza January 7, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    What a beautiful recipe and I love the photos. Big Man and I really need to go and try out this restaurant and like you will, no doubt, order far too much! And I love El Pimpi too – great place for a little aperitivo.

  8. January 7, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    the muhammara looks great. i have bookmarked this one to make as soon as i finish the hummus i recently made.

    just one question natalie. i won’t get roasted bell pepper in india. i think it would not make much of a difference to the flavors if i roast the bell pepper in oven… or should i roast it on the open gas flame. let me know.

    • foodblogandthedog January 7, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

      You can do either, roasting in the oven is less messy but on an open flame is quicker, it’s up to you, let me know how you get on!!

  9. Tammy January 7, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

    I don’t know that I’ve actually been to a Lebanese restaurant before. The dish look amazing but I would love to roast my own peppers for it.

  10. frugalfeeding January 7, 2012 at 10:32 pm #

    I think that dip looks ridiculously good. The colours is simply outstanding!

  11. Carol January 8, 2012 at 2:15 am #

    I’m going to make this one- looks delicious

  12. Kim Bee January 8, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    I am not usually a dip fan but this is one I could totally get behind. Amazing, the colors are just stunning.

  13. Beth Michelle January 8, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Everything sounds wonderful! Yay to Middle Eastern food! I love the addition of cinnamon in this dip. Must be fantastic!

  14. kellie @ foodtoglow January 8, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    I love Lebanese food too, and surprisingly it is easily found in Edinburgh Scotland of all places. I do a version of muhammara for my cancer nutrition workshop to go with a simple harissa roast veg couscous and North African salady things, but I use oatcakes because Scots always have oatcakes in their cupboards. They work really well and the GF kind are great for coeliacs. Lovely photos as always, and its great to have a recommendation for the next time we are in Malaga.

  15. bhavani January 9, 2012 at 4:51 am #

    Looks like a great restaurant. Your dip looks super tasty as well – I need to make more dips this year – the perfect snack! Thanks for sharing another great recipe and happy new year!

  16. Tony Ward January 9, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    MMMMMMMMMMM we’re having friends over for a fish curry (oops sorry) tomorrow, so I think will be a perfect ‘starter’, with a glass of very dry Rose !!??
    Love the pic’s you manage to create such an atmosphere with them.xx

  17. carolineelliott January 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    Hi Natalie, The restaurant was superlative which I can confirm. So pleased you have now posted your own version of this dish. I look forward to attempting it when I get back to Spain! Well done you. Caroline

  18. sarah January 10, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    That restaurant sounds lovely and this recipe is fantastic! Love the cinnamon!

  19. Three Well Beings January 11, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    Oh my goodness! Divine! I am curious to see if I can find pomegranate molasses…sounds so good!Your pictures are fabulous, the recipe just the best–and this is a must-try! Debra

  20. Sawsan@ Chef in disguise January 15, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    I can’t wait to try this..the color and the spices ..irresistable

  21. rayandskye March 21, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    This looks so delicious!

    • María July 20, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

      My name is María and I from Madrid but I live in Málaga. This is one of my favourite restaurants in the city. This afternoon I was thinking that I would like to try to make hammaras recipe like in the Samarkanda. I start to look in the internet and the first page I check is this blog. When I see the first pair of photos I was really surprised: it’s Samarkanda!!! wath chance !! Lol. Thank you for the recipe. One day we asked them about the secret of their food and they didn’t like the question (maybe they thought that my boyfriend and me wanted to open a restaurant or something like that 🙂 ). But anyway, the food is so deliciuous and they always are so kind.
      Sorry about grammar failures, but I need to improve my english 😉

      Adios! (let’s go to cook)

  22. The Seas Of Mintaka August 29, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

    This looks sooo tasty, Natalie! I actually passed by that restaurant once, a Spanish girlfriend took me there but seeing as we were both typical poor and unemployed “Spanish” people at that time (well I’m only Spanish by residence hehe) we couldn’t do more than cast a glance about. We promised ourselves that if we ever found a job we’d go there. Well I found a job, she didn’t, but I forgot all about this restaurant. Thanks for reminding me, let’s see if I remember to take my kids there sometime…………

  23. Rosa March 4, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    Hi Natalie,
    I just made this and it is phenomenal! The cinnamon does make this over the top. This is now my favourite red pepper dip. Thanks for sharing your recipe!!

  24. Safaa May 2, 2013 at 8:50 am #

    Hi, thanks a lot for the wonderful recipe.. im just wondering where can you get the pomegranate molasses in Malaga? I live in Granada and have been looking for it everywhere with no luck.. Or do you make your own? Thanks

    • Natalie Ward May 2, 2013 at 8:52 am #

      I still haven’t found it here either! In the recipe I actually replace it with honey but I have now got a friend to send me some over from England!


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