Courtesy Met Kaba, executive chef, Leyla, New York City
At Leyla on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Istanbul native Met Kaba prepares modern versions of dishes eaten in Turkey. Walnuts and pomegranate molasses come together with a little bit of peppery heat in his take on this all-purpose dish. Leave it on the table throughout the meal to slather on bread, and then to spread it on vegetables or meat.
- 14 ounces walnuts, shelled
- 1 cup panko
- 1 tablespoon sweet pepper paste
- 1 tablespoon hot pepper paste
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 red peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 cloves garlic, roasted
- ½ cup cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Process walnuts and panko in large bowl of food processor. Pulse 1 minute, or until well combined. Add all other ingredients, except thyme, and process until smooth, approximately 1–2 minutes. Transfer to clean bowl. Garnish with thyme. Serves 4–6.
Murat Akinci, Leyla’s general manager, prefers Selendi 2017 Sarnıç Cabernet Franc from Turkey. Grown at high altitude, this wine is vibrant and spicy. Its rich berry flavors and moderate tannins are a great match to muhammara’s bittersweet walnut and red pepper flavors.
Another Cabernet Franc, this one from France’s Loire Valley, Sauvion 2017 Chinon has soft tannins, cherry and green pepper flavors, and strong acidity. It’s ideal alongside muhammara’s sweet and spicy qualities, as well as the astringent character of walnuts.