This dish is made throughout southern Turkey and northwestern Syria. The people of this area raise walnuts and love peppers--they tend to use them in recipes where their neighbors use herbs . One of their staple ingredients is sour pomegranate syrup, available here in Near Eastern markets (called dibs rumman in Arabic and robb-e- anar in Persian). There's no real substitute for its sweet-sour flavor, but in its absence you can increase the amount of lemon juice to taste. From Ayla Algar, "Classical Turkish Cookery," (HarperCollins, October, 1991) .
GULUMAY'S WALNUT-GARLIC SPREAD (Muhammara)
2 large sweet red peppers
1 tablespoon water
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
2/3 cup toasted sourdough bread crumbs
1 or 2 red jalapeno chiles, seeded and minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground cumin seeds
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
2 teaspoons pomegranate syrup
2 tablespoons lemon juice, about
Croutons, flatbread wedges or crackers
Roast sweet red peppers over grill or gas flame, turning frequently until charred all over. Seal 10 minutes in plastic bag, peel, seed and chop.
Combine chopped peppers with water in food processor. Process to moist paste. Set aside.
Pound walnuts with garlic in mortar. Stir in bread crumbs and chiles. Continue pounding until all ingredients are blended. Mix in pureed peppers.
Gradualy mix in olive oil and season to taste with cumin, red pepper flakes, pomegranate syrup and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Adjust salt and lemon juice to taste.
Let stand several hours or overnight for flavors to blend and mature. Serve on croutons or flatbread wedges or crackers. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.