Mahamara, Sweet Red Pepper Spread

Published May 11, 2018

Mahamara, that Sweet Red Pepper Spread, is known throughout Syria and the Middle East and has many fans! The interesting thing about the #Aleppo version is that it is not spicy, as in other countries of the Levant. This version is mildly sweet with its hint of Tamarind syrup, the distinguishing condiment of Aleppo cooks!

When Sitto made her #Mahamara, I was in heaven! I watched as she would clamp her food grinder onto the edge of her Formica table. She’d add the fresh red peppers and Zweibach toasts, while she turned the handle to grind them up. She’d then add her Dibis, her homemade Tamarind Syrup, a dash of fresh lemon juice, seasoning and nuts. I just couldn’t wait to grab a piece of Khubiz, Syrian pita bread and make myself a quick sandwich. Sitto would smile…just as I do today when my daughters do the same! And if I make it and bring it to their houses, it’s gone in a flash!

Time sometimes brings innovation, sometimes an obstacle. After moving to California, I found it hard to find Zweibach toasts. When I wrote the cookbooks, I decided to add a Cook’s Note for making your own toasts. But recently, I tried Trader Joe’s Brioche Toasts and they were delicious in this Sweet Red Pepper Spread. So, for those of you who might think this is all too exotic or hard to put together, take these tips and make this traditional Syrian appetizer your own! Just because these are old recipes doesn’t mean that you can’t use more modern ingredients or methods. This was just another reason I always kept faithful to the original, but included my Cook’s Notes for more modern tips. It’s like having Sitto alongside you once again!

Find this wonderful Aleppo recipe on page 40 of Sitto’s Kitchen II Cookbook.