in the kitchen with

3 Tasty Dips For Your Holiday Get-Together

by Caitlin Kelch

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I’ve been one the hunt for some small mezze type dishes and dip recipes for my old-neighbor get-together next week. I bought my first home back in July and I absolutely love it — but I did leave behind the most wonderful set of neighbors a single mom could ever hope to have. Granted, we live in a small town so my new home is only 5 minutes away from my old neighborhood, but seeing those eight smiling faces every single day is a treat that I miss.

I’m excited to have them all over for a little holiday cheer next Saturday, and I’ll be serving up these little bowls of deliciousness that we’ll nibble on in between holiday stories and a lot of hugs. First up is London-based Mediterranean food expert Anissa Helou’s recipe for Syrian or Lebanese Muhammarah (shown above), a pepper spread served with wholewheat crackers with mastic.

I’m also excited to make and share Julia Turshen’s Zucchini -Tahini Dip and Kristin Donnelly’s Roasted Carrot Hummus.

Click through for the Muhammarah recipe and a link Anissa’s instructions for how to make your own wholewheat crackers! –Caitlin

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Muhammarah is a specialty of Aleppo, although you find it all over Syria and in Lebanon, too. The classic recipe is made with a very mild pepper paste called dibss el-fleifleh. It is not so easy to find in the West except for the tinned commercial Turkish brands, which are mild but less dense than the paste you buy in the souks of Aleppo or in the bazaars of Gaziantep. This leaves you with two choices: one, to use the tinned Turkish paste but reduce the amount of water stated in the recipe, and the other, to skip the pepper paste altogether and make the muhammarah with grilled red peppers instead, adding Aleppo pepper flakes to get the mild heat of the paste and lemon juice for acidity. If you go for the second option, you will not need to add any water.

Muhammarah (with pepper paste)
Serves 6–8

  • 1 cup pepper paste (I’m going to puree mine into a thick paste in my food processor.)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely ground , plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 cup water (depending on how thick the pepper paste is)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate syrup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon tahini
  • sea salt

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Wholewheat Crackers with Mastic (click link for recipe)

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About Anissa: Anissa is a writer, journalist, broadcaster and blogger. Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, she knows the Mediterranean as only a well-traveled native can. She is the author of numerous award-winning cookbooks including Modern Mezze, and Savory Baking from the Mediterranean.

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