The “magical” Red Pepper Paste

lahmajoun2
Red pepper paste is a key ingredient for authentic “lahmajoun” (armenian flatbreads)

My sister Myranda, who incidently lives in her kitchen too, one day gave me a small jar of something that looked a lot like tomato paste, only it was brighter in colour. I remember she said to me «this paste is magical». And how right she was. The sweet taste and aroma of this paste will lift any tomato based dish to another level. Tomatoes have acidity which is usually nutralized by the addition of a little sugar. One teaspoon of sweet red pepper taste is enough to make any tomato sauce sweeter without the sugar. Red pepper paste is widely used in armenian and turkish cuisine and it’s a necessary ingredient in cooking authentic «Lahmajoun», the delicious meaty flatbreads. Spend some time in the kitchen and make a small jar of red pepper paste. It will add magic to your dishes.

You will need

  • 2 kg red peppers (capsicum)
  • 3 tbs olive oil, divided
  • a pinch of salt

Method

Preheat oven to 200 C fan (390 F). Put the peppers, whole, in a baking pan and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. You turn them around a bit to coat them in oil. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, turning them once or twice. Remove pan from oven and let the peppers cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 150 C fan (305 F). Peel the peppers and remove the seeds. Don’t go crazy if you can’t peel away all the skin. Put them in a blender or a food processor fitted with a metal blade, add the remaining olive oil with a pinch of salt and pulse until pureed.

Spread the pepper puree in a baking pan. Bake for 2 to 2.30 hours, stirring the paste every half an hour or so, until its darker in colour and quite thick. Store in a jar in the fridge.

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