“A couple of hours south of Amman is the awe-inspiring Wadi Rum, where I spent a night camping and eating with the Bedouin. They cooked a marinated and delicately spiced whole lamb dish called zarb, which was buried in a firepit in the ground and cooked for about 4 hours. It was the most amazing, sweet-tasting and meltingly soft lamb I’ve ever tasted. We ate it under the stars with local flatbread and a good dollop of this smoky sweet red pepper dip.” Ainsley Harriott, Ainsley Harriott’s Street Food
- 2 large red peppers (capsicum)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 100 g shelled walnut halves, toasted
- 125 ml (½ cup) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- good pinch of ground cumin
- pinch of smoked paprika
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp pomegranate molasses
- mint sprigs, to garnish (optional)
- warm flatbreads, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cooling time 20 minutes
Roast the peppers over an open flame, turning regularly, until blackened and blistered. Alternatively, place in a small roasting tray and roast in the oven at 180°C for 25-30 minutes or until blackened and blistered. Place the cooked peppers in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and stand until cool. This helps steam off the skin. Peel the peppers, but don’t worry if a little blackened skin remains, then discard the seeds and finely dice the flesh.
Pound the garlic in a mortar and pestle until a paste forms. Reserve a few of the walnuts for serving, then gradually add the rest to the mortar and pound until a rough paste forms, adding a little of the olive oil to help it along. Transfer the paste to a bowl, stir in the peppers and season to taste, then add the cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper. Stir in the pomegranate molasses and finally work in the rest of the olive oil until you have achieved a dip-like consistency.
Transfer the dip to a shallow serving bowl and decorate with the reserved toasted walnut halves. Garnish with the mint sprig, if using, and drizzle over a little extra olive oil. Serve with the flatbreads.