Recipe: Muhammara or acuka (roasted red pepper dip)

Recipe: Muhammara or acuka (roasted red pepper dip) thumbnail
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Muhammara — a delicious roasted red pepper dip — is a Middle Eastern dish that is by far our favorite thing to do with red ripe garden peppers. You’ll know why we love this recipe once you taste it…

Our introduction to muhammara

The Tyrant’s mom passed away in 2018. She was quite a character, and Susan has so many funny and loving memories of her.

Cooking was not one of her mom’s strengths, but she tried. In fact, the first time The Tyrant brought me to meet her family, she warned me about her mom’s cooking: “it’s awful,” she said. “Just eat it and know that you only have to make it through one weekend.” Yikes.

Suffice it to say that Susan’s descriptions were indeed accurate. So imagine our surprise when — months later — we brought my parents to to meet her parents and Susan’s mom made one of the best dishes we’d ever tasted. “Muhammara,” she said, beaming as we all stuffed our faces and complimented her on what an amazing cook she was.

What the heck is muhammara?

Mmm, muhammara (made with homegrown roasted red peppers) and served with our whole wheat flatbread.

Mmm, muhammara (made with homegrown roasted red peppers) and served with our whole wheat flatbread.

Muhammara is a Middle Eastern dish originally from Syria and Turkey. (It’s also called “acuka” in some areas.) In case you’re trying to figure out how to pronounce muhammara, it’s moo-‘hah-mah-rha. There’s almost a little bit of “d” sound added at the beginning of the rha, too.

In Arabic, “hammara” means “something red.” The full name means, “reddened.”

Muhammara’s exact ingredients and ratios vary by country, and probably even from town to town and house to house within countries. However, the basic ingredients of muhammara are:

  • red peppers,
  • walnuts,
  • pomegranate molasses,
  • bread crumbs (see recipe for gluten-free alternative),
  • extra virgin olive oil,
  • cumin,
  • lemon juice (not always – and our recipe instead uses the tang of pomegranate molasses to give it zip).

How to use muhammara

We heard a Lebanese woman refer to muhammara as “Lebanese ketchup.” That is to say, they use muhammara on virtually everything, similar to the way Americans use ketchup. However, muhammara has a much thicker texture than ketchup.

Our favorite way to eat muhammara is as a dip atop pieces of our whole wheat flatbread and/or with sliced veggies. You can use it on sandwiches, wraps, meats, eggs, or pretty much anything else that needs a rich, savory yet sweet-tangy sauce/dip.

Muhammara is a summer staple in our house.

Muhammara is a summer staple in our house.

Recommendation: to make the BEST homemade muhammara, start with homemade roasted & brined red peppers

As with any recipe, quality ingredients are what makes the difference between ok and amazing.

If you want to take your muhammara game to the next level, we highly suggest you roast and/or roast and brine your own red peppers. This highly versatile ingredient can be used in lots of ways and can store in your fridge for up to a year.

Here’s the recipe we used.

If possible, use homegrown, homemade roasted red peppers to take your muhammara game to the next level of deliciousness.

If possible, use homegrown, homemade roasted red peppers to take your muhammara game to the next level of deliciousness.

If you’re in a rush or you’d rather just get store-bought roasted red peppers, no problem. You can still make a mean muhammara. 

Recipe: Muhammara or acuka (roasted red pepper dip)

Muhammara and acuka, roasted red pepper dip.

Muhammara or acuka (roasted red pepper dip)

Course: Appetizer, Sauce, Side Dish
Cuisine: Lebanese, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Syrian, Turkish
Keyword: acuka, muhammara, red pepper spread, roasted red peppers
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: Aaron von Frank

A delicious Middle Eastern dish made with roasted red peppers, pomegranate molasses, and walnuts. Sometimes referred to as "Lebanese ketchup" you can use muhammara as a dip or sauce on virtually anything! 


  • 12 ounce jar roasted red bell peppers, drained (this is equivalent to 8.25 ounces drained peppers or about 1 packed cup of drained peppers)
  • 1 1/4 cups walnuts
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (gluten-free option: just take your favorite gluten-free crackers and grind them into 1/4 cup crumbs in a blender)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Simplest instructions ever: Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth and uniform. 

  2. Dress it up! We like to serve our muhammara drizzled with olive oil, chopped walnuts, and seasonal edible flowers. 

We hope you enjoy muhammara — a delicious Middle Eastern roasted red pepper dip — as much as we do!

In loving memory of Laura Sebotnick, mother of The Tyrant, and the most dedicated cook ever. We’ll always remember you fondly when we eat muhammara. 


Muhammara - A delicious and ridiculously easy to make dip/sauce from the Middle East made from roasted red peppers, walnuts, and pomegranate molasses. #muhammara #acuka #recipes #pepperrecipe #mediterraneandiet #summerrecipes #pepperrecipes

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  • Reply
    August 31, 2021 at 10:12 pm

    OMG! Finally, real Turkish Acuka recipe. The Internet has been filled with Acuka recipes but non are Acuka. I guess a Turkish woman Özlem calls herself a chef and the rest just follow and publish the recipes a Turkish blindly.
    Those recipes chuck fresh tomato and pepper into blender, here is Acuka

    Especially, my uncle loves using Acuka. Hence, he prepares Red Pepper paste and also Acuka in various jars every year for the whole year when Red Pepper is in season. In Turkey, Red Pepper used is called ” Kapya Biber ” A type of Red Pepper mainly used in Turkey. The peppers are steamed or chargrilled as in your recipes. Your recipe is the only recipe I have seen on the internet that calls for roasted/chargrilled red pepper instead of chucking fresh or store-bought paste into a blender.
    There are other sauces where fresh tomato or pepper is done to be used for the same day, not to be kept.

    All the best

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      September 1, 2021 at 10:41 am

      Wow, thank you Fügen! We appreciate your acknowledgment and reflection on the authenticity of our acuka recipe. We don’t ever take the fast or easy approach with our recipes/cooking, and instead opt for authentic approaches that bring out flavor and nuance. Slow food is good food. We could have taken it a step further and wood-fired our peppers. 🙂

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