I don't know if you've seen a trend through my blogs. I noticed that the categories that pop up most frequently are soups and dips. Well, soup is one of my favourite things to cook and to eat, and I simply love having a collection of dips on hand, to accompany anything, from idlis and vadas to paneer, bread, crackers, crudites, chips, mini-blinis and so on.
In the winter, when the prices of bell peppers falls to about Rs. 100 a kilo, I run amock buying them up for all manner of uses, from eating them grilled to julienning them for salads or making them into soups, adding them to pasta...Red bell pepper has two special uses for me. One is in a roasted red pepper soup which is one of the most divine soups I have ever had. The other is to make Muhammara ( the third, which I recently discovered, is to make the secret sauce of the Marais restaurant).
Muhammara is a lebanese sauce, meant to be had with fattoush or pita bread. But frankly, it is such a lush thing that I can have it with almost anything, or even spend a messy half hour dipping my finger into a cup full and licking it off. In fact, I've just had a brainwave that suggests that I try it as a pasta sauce. The taste is tongue-tingling and yet gentle so it's a very inviting dip. And it requires roast bell peppers, than which what could be more delicious?
Red bell pepper - 200 grams
1/3rd cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
3-4 garlic cloves
1 tsp pomegranate molasses ( not having any, I usually use plain old anardana - pomegranata seeds, available at any indian grocery store)
1/2-1 tbsp sugar (to taste)
1 tsp chilli powder
Juice of half lemon
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
Roast the bell pepper until the skin is charred. Cool, peel and deseed and chop into chunks.
Run all the ingredients except the olive oil in the blender until finely pureed together.
Add the olive oil little by little into the running blender until well-blended with the sauce.
Remove and enjoy with anything!
Over the weekend, I served this with a grilled masala paneer which is a Delhi specialty. Mmm!