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Jan 3, 2009 09:41 AM

Turkish Red Pepper Paste

I just finished reading Greg and Lucy Malouf's magnificent book Turquoise: A Chef's Travels in Turkey. Many of the recipes in the book call for Turkish red pepper paste. Is this same as Harissa? If not , does anyone know where in the East-bay I could find Turkish red pepper paste?

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  1. Could this be ajvar? There are mild and hot versions. I get mine at the Halal markets on San Pablo at University, Berkeley.

    1. I was in Turkey this summer and brought back a jar (it exploded in the plane). It's basically red pepper (I think red bell pepper) and is the consistency of tomato paste. Harissa seems to be spicy, but the red pepper paste has no spices. Here's something I found on-line:

      I looked for it in SF at a Middle Eastern store in the Tenderloin, but the owner doesn't stock it. You might try calling a few Turkish restaurants to see if they can help. I don't know of any in the East Bay though.

      1. Berkeley Bowl has adjvar, in either the hot or the mild version. The mild version has enough of a kick for me. The brand name is Zergut, and it is made in Bulgaria. It has eggplant in it as well. I believe the Hungarians also favor this. I use it as a spread or as a component of a dip or a salad dressing. It has a beautiful color.
        At the Bowl you will find it in the condiments section (above the ketchup).
        Sometimes it goes out of stock.

        1. It isn't ajvar. If you can't find it locally it is possible to make it. Paula Wolfert has a recipe in Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean. It's basically a mixture of sweet and a few hot red peppers, oven dried partially to mimic the sun-drying used in Turkey, ground up in a food processor with salt and olive oil and a little sugar ( I leave that out). Topped off with a film of olive oil and in the refrigerator, it keeps indefinitely.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Armoise

            I think I'd like to take a shot at making my own! Could you possibly post the recipe here (and specify what type of hot peppers)? It'd be much appreciated, thanks!


            1. re: label_me_mabel

              Put whole peppers on a tray and roast in the oven.
              when they are done, (soft when pressed on) (this is to try to mimic the sun drying) and cooled, peel them, de-seed them, and put in a blender and puree. Put it in a pot with a pinch of salt, sugar and some splashes of water and heat it up to a bubble, then turn down to simmer and stir often. When it is evaporated and thick and a paste you can then trun it off, let it cool, put in a jar and add some olive oil on top to prevent it from rotting nd store in the fridge. I also store it in the freezer and take out as I need. :)

          2. Oh, I know this one! Turkuaz Market in Dublin has several varieties. I have one in my fridge now, recommended by the owner. It's great stuff -- try it as a pasta sauce along with olive oil, onions, garlic, oregano, a little sumac, and cooking water from the pasta.

            Turkuaz Market-Turkish groceries & More
            8935 San Ramon Road, Dublin, CA 94568