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|Red peppers, walnuts, breadcrumbs, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, red chili paste, salt, olive oil, cumin|
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Muhammara, Mhammara (Arabic: محمرة "reddened") or Ajika (Abkhaz: аџьыка, аџьыкаҟaҧшь or aџьыкаҵәаҵәа, Georgian: აჯიკა, Russian: аджика; often rendered ajika in English) is a hot pepper dip originally from Aleppo, Syria but also found in Palestinian and Lebanese cuisine as well as other places in Anatolia and the Levant.
Muhammara or Ajika is a hot, spicy but subtly flavoured paste often used to flavour food mainly in the Caucasian regions of Abkhazia and Samegrelo. Ajika is usually red, though green ajika can be made with unripe peppers. The name itself comes from the Abkhaz word аџьыка "salt" (the more descriptive аџьыкаҟaҧшь (literally, "red salt") and аџьыкаҵәаҵәа are also used to refer specifically to ajika).
The Abkhazian variant of ajika is based on a boiled preparation of hot red peppers, garlic, herbs and spices such as coriander, dill, blue fenugreek (only found in mountain regions such as the Alps or the Caucasus), salt and walnut. A dry form of ajika exists that is sometimes called svanuri marili in Georgian (სვანური მარილი "Svanetian salt"); this looks like small red clumps mixed with a looser version of the spice mixture. Home-made ajika is available from many market stalls in the Caucasus and in the Krasnodar Krai of Russia. Tomatoes are not an ingredient of traditional ajika, though different versions of ajika, sometimes having tomatoes as a main ingredient, are produced on a commercial scale and sold in supermarkets in Ukraine and Russia.
In appearance and consistency ajika resembles Italian red pesto. The spiciness varies from recipe to recipe; those acquainted with British-Asian curry styles would probably rate a typical ajika as "vindaloo strength". In western Turkey, muhammara is referred to as acuka; whereas, in southeastern regions, it is referred to as "Muhammara".
The principal ingredients are usually fresh or dried peppers, usually Aleppo pepper, ground walnuts, breadcrumbs, and olive oil. It may also contain garlic, salt, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, and sometimes spices (e.g. cumin). It may be garnished with mint leaves.
- The Culinary Institute of America (2008). Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen (Hardcover ed.). Wiley. p. 53. ISBN 0-470-05590-1.
- Копешавидзе Г. Г. 1989, Абхазская кухня, pp. 77, 78.
- Burford T. 2008, Georgia, Bradt Travel Guide, p. 69.
- Abkhaz-Adyghe etymology
- Yanagisawa T. 2010 Analytic Dictionary of Abkhaz (entry а-џьы́ка). Hitsuji Shobo Press.
- Касланӡиа В. 2005, Аԥсуа-аурыс жәар (entries а-џьы́ка, a-џьыкаҵәа́ҵәа).
- Копешавидзе Г. Г. 1989, Абхазская кухня, p. 77.
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