Crushed Maras Chiles
Maras Chiles (pronounced "mah-RAHSH"), Capsicum annuum, are also called Maras biber, kirmizi biber, Turkish pepper, and Turkish red pepper flakes. The alternative spelling for Maras is Marash. The word biber may also be spelled as biberi, with "biberi" and "biber" both translating to pepper. Locally this chile is called Kahramanmaras Aci Biberi.
What is Maras Pepper
Like its close chile cousins Urfa Biber (another Turkish grown chile) and Aleppo Pepper (from pre-war torn Syria), Maras Pepper is known for its rich, complex and slightly sweet flavor.
Like many chiles its name is derived from its birthplace, Maras peppers are grown in the pepper capital of Turkey in the town of Kahramanmaras, which before 1973 was known as Maras. While Middle Eastern cuisine continues to gain in popularity in the US, Turkish cuisine remains at worse relatively unknown and at best under appreciated.
Maras Pepper is typically only found crushed and unlike most of the chile flakes that you may be more familiar with, are not completely dry. But if you're searching for authentic Turkish flavor you'll absolutely love this Maras Pepper.
We’ve all had those ubiquitous “red pepper flakes” found in just about every pizza place in the US. These always have lots of seeds. Seeds add bulk weight for the supplier and certainly provide some heat but not so much flavor for the person consuming the pizza. Marash Pepper, on the other hand, is completely seedless. This provides a tremendous amount of flavor with just a touch of heat.
History of Maras Peppers
The legend of the Silk Road has lived on for thousands of years and the region that is modern day Turkey played a key role in the spice trade moving along this route. The Silk Road was established during the peak of the famed Chinese Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) and was used as a way to connect the two greatest empires of its time, Han China and Imperial Rome. The Silk Road trade route was used from 130 BC until 1453 when the Ottoman Empire (who between the 14th and early 20th centuries controlled much of Northern Africa, Western Asia and Southeastern Europe) shut down the routes. This forced the spice obsessed Europeans to seek alternative sea routes to get their favorite spices from Southeast Asia delivered to them.
For centuries, the spice trade was the world's biggest industry and for much of that time it was conducted mostly by camel caravans over land routes. In addition to China and Rome, trade on the Silk Road was a significant factor in the development of the great civilizations of Arabia, India, Egypt, and Persia. The exotic freight passed through dozens of hands before it was received by European merchant firms in either Alexandria (a port city on the Mediterranean Sea in northern Egypt founded in 331 BCE by Alexander the Great) or Constantinople (modern day Istanbul).
At its apex Constantinople was the capital of the Roman empire and one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Because of its historical significance in the spice trade, the people of this region have long been passionate users of spices. The introduction of chiles to the region were from chile cultivars that were grown in India (after being brought there by Portuguese traders) and transported westward through east Asia. A chile historian in Turkey believes the earliest Maras chile cultivars may have been from Armenian peppers that were claimed by the Turks after their victory in the bloody Armenian Massacre in Maras around 1915.
Maras Chile Cultivation
Maras chile plants grow to 2-3' tall and have a reputation as a tough plant that can grow in numerous harsh conditions. These thin walled chiles are fruity, bitter and sweet all wrapped up into one. Maras peppers are about 3- 6" long resembling Eastern Europe Paprika chiles types and they ripen from green to a dark red, almost crimson color.
Freshly harvested Maras chiles are laid out on long plastic tarps on the ground to dry in the sun, workers will periodically turn the peppers using homemade garden rakes to allow even, consistent drying. After slowly drying in the sun during the day they're wrapped at night to steep (or sweat) in their own moisture (just like vanilla beans). When dried, Maras pepper has an earthy, slightly smoky aroma. Once they've reached the desired dehydrated levels the peppers are de-stemmed, de-seeded and then finely crushed (or ground), lightly salted and oiled for preservation.
The color, texture and flavor of the final crushed pepper can vary depending on the ripeness of the chile when picked, the amount of drying time, how long they were ground, the quantity and quality of the oil and the amount of salt added to the finished product. We look for our crushed Maras pepper to have a deep red color while containing minimal amounts of oil and salt, a mild heat and a bright flavor.
Where are Maras Peppers From?
Our Maras Chiles are cultivated in Turkey.
What does Maras Biber Taste Like
The aroma of crushed Maras Biber is of dried fruit, while the taste is slightly acidic with hints of deep, earthy flavors.
Are Maras Chiles Hot
We consider these to be a mild chile which comes in at about 4,000 to 8,000 on the Scoville heat unit scale.
Is Aleppo Pepper the Same as Maras Biber?
No. These are two completely different chiles. Maras Biber (chiles) are from Turkey while Aleppo Peppers are native to nearby Syria. Like New Mexico Chiles and California grown Anaheim chiles chiles these are closely related with a very similar flavor profile they can be substituted for one another.
Tips from Our Kitchen
Crushed Maras Chiles are often used as a finishing garnish and are excellent in couscous, on eggplant dips like baba ghanoush, or mixed with lemon and yogurt for a creamy, spicy topping that can be spread on a wrap or as a finisher to dollop over kebabs. It’s assertive enough to stand up to hearty meats like lamb or stewing meat, so mix into lamb meatballs or stir into braising liquid for a winter-friendly, hearty stew. This is more of an oily pepper and when infused into olive oil results in a deep red/purple color that we’ve used as a dipping sauce for bread and pitas. Add a dash to sauce or soup for a touch of mild and unexpected heat. Some of our commercial bakers use it as a secret ingredient in their chocolate barks.
Some of our favorite recipes using Crushed Maras Pepper are Asian Chicken Rolls, Imam Bayildi, and Spaghetti alle Vongole. Use as a substitute for black pepper and anywhere you would use regular red pepper flakes.
You should keep your Maras pepper as moist as possible for maximum flavor, use an air tight container that can be sealed tightly and keep in a dark spice cabinet away from the heat of the stove or oven.
Maras Pepper Substitution
Maras Pepper (4,000 – 8,000 SHU), Urfa Biber (6,000 – 8,000 SHU) and Aleppo Pepper (2,500 – 5,000 SHU) can all be used as a substitute for one another and while their flavor profiles are comparable you should be aware of the heat differences of each.
|Ingredients||Maras chiles, salt and vegetable oil|
|Also Called||Maras biber, kirmizi biber, Turkish pepper, and Turkish red pepper flakes|
|Recommended Uses||Use in chili, couscous, dips, egg dishes, hummus, mayo, meat dishes, pasta, pizza, salads, sauces and stew|
|Flavor Profile||The aroma is of dried fruit, while the taste is slightly acidic with hints of deep earthy flavors|
|Scoville Heat Units||4,000 - 8,000 SHU|
|Botanical Name||Capsicum annuum|
|Cuisine||Mediterranean, Middle Eastern|
|How To Store||Airtight container in a cool, dark place|
|Shelf Life||6-12 months|
|Country of Origin||Turkey|
|Dietary Preferences||Gluten Free, Kosher, Non-GMO|
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Serving Size1 tsp
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*