Aleppo pepper is a type of chili pepper belonging to the Capsicum annuum species and is used predominantly in the spice form. It is also known as Halaby pepper with the Turkish people calling it "pul biber", which literally means "flaked pepper". The term "Aleppo" refers to a Syrian town that lies on the ancient Silk route. The spice prepared from the pepper is used extensively in the cuisines of the Mediterranean region as well as that of the Middle East.
The spice is prepared from the semi-dried variety of pepper which is then de-seeded and crushed or ground into a coarse powder. The use of this spice is not too widespread among the general population of USA and remains confined to the Middle Eastern and Turkish communities residing in the country.
The chili can be substituted for paprika powder and is often used in to flavor meze, the Greek appetiser platter containing assorted morsels.
What is Aleppo Pepper?
The pepper grows in the pod form which becomes burgundy colored after maturing. It is considered to be moderately hot and measures 10,000 on the Scoville scale. The taste is fruity with a light cumin-like undertone. It is very similar to the ancho chili which is a little less oily and salty than Aleppo pepper. The heat is usually mild and experienced after the initial fruit-like sweet taste. This raisin flavored pepper has often been described as a sun dried tomato with a kick.
Culinary Uses of Aleppo Pepper
The pepper spice is used as chili flakes, especially in Mediterranean cooking or for flavoring non-Mediterranean dishes, like Pizza and rice. It is also sprinkled on roast potatoes and baked vegetable dishes. The batter for corn breads can be spiced up by adding the pepper flakes, as is the dough for cheese wafers. It is also used to rub meat especially poultry. The breading for turkey schnitzel is flavored with the Aleppo variety of pepper as well.
Some of the most popular recipes using Aleppo pepper include:-
Muhammara- This is a hot chili dip originally prepared in Aleppo. It consists of the dried pepper powder mixed with walnuts, breadcrumbs and olive oil and is served as a sauce with kebabs, meat grills and a variety of breads.
Red Lentil Soup- This is a Lebanese dish prepared with red lentils, rice and vegetable stock which is flavored with the pepper.
- Chicken Pilaf- A Middle Eastern dish cooked with chicken, rice and exotic spices including Halaby pepper, star anise and turmeric.
Crushed Aleppo pepper is used as seasoning and placed along with salt and pepper on restaurant tables in Turkey.