Maras pepper is one of the most popular spices in Turkey. In fact, you’re more likely to find it on dining room tables than you are black pepper. And the flavors couldn’t be further apart. Maras pepper is a bright, orangish-red pepper with a balanced, medium heat. Known for its earthy, acidic flavor, Maras pepper makes a great garnish or adds heat and aroma to any dish.
Maras pepper is closely related to Aleppo pepper, and it’s widely used in Middle Eastern cooking. Yet, the spice works well in a variety of cuisines; it complements Italian dishes and is great in hummus and any red sauce. Bottom line, this is a unique and bold red pepper flake that’s handy in any kitchen.
Cooking with Maras Pepper
In Turkish cooking, Maras is one of the most popular spices. Used for adding a mild heat to sauces and stews, Maras pepper has numerous uses in the kitchen. It’s very versatile. It can be used as a garnish – use it in place of paprika – or as a spice for stews, sauces and dry rubs. A few of the most common uses include:
- Meat dishes – Perfect for seasoning kebobs, lamb and meatballs.
- Sauces – Maras pepper works in any red sauce – it’s a favorite in pasta sauce – and it delivers a bit of a kick.
- Stews and soups – In slow-cooked dishes, Maras pepper perfectly marries with a variety of flavors and its fruity, mild heat is brought out.
- Eggs – The spiciness of Maras pepper complements numerous egg dishes, from frittatas, to scrambled eggs.
A dash of Maras pepper goes a long way, and it pairs nicely with lemon juice and other acids, as well as thyme and rosemary.
Maras Pepper: History and Cultivation
Turkey was an important stop on the Silk Road, a spice trading route that connected Europe and China. The route was in operation from 130 BC to 1453. And throughout this time, Turkey perfected many of spices.
Maras pepper originated in southeast Turkey, in a town named Maras. Today, the town’s known as Kahramanmaras, yet the region still continues to produce the Maras chile pepper. It’s known throughout Turkey by many names, including Turkish Red Pepper and Marash pepper.
Maras pepper plants are known for their hardiness, and they grown in some of Turkey’s driest regions. The plants grow to about 3 feet in height and produce about 10-15 pounds of peppers per plant. The fruit is fleshy and bitter, growing long and slender. And ripens on the vine to dark red.
In Turkey, growers still use a traditional sun-drying method for the ripe fruit. The peppers are sun-dried on large tarps, and continually turned for up to 2-3 weeks. Once dried, the peppers are destemmed and then sold whole, crushed or ground.
About Our Maras Pepper
Burma Spice sources its Maras pepper from a select group of growing cooperatives located in southeast Turkey. We work with several farms that have been producing the peppers for decades, and they continue to use traditional sun drying to dehydrate the ripe fruit.
The flavor of the spice ultimately depends on the crop and can vary slightly year after year. The ripeness when harvested, seasonal climate and the amount of time spent drying can all affect flavor. Our Maras pepper ranges from a bold, smoky red pepper, to fruitier and sweeter in some years.