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Ezme; Spread of Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers with Red Pepper Paste

Scrumptious spread of Ezme; makes a great appetizer and goes really well with grilled meat and vegetables.

Have you ever tried the delicious Turkish mezze, Ezme? This tomato based delicious appetizer has a wonderful mixture of sweet, spicy and acidic flavors and it is one of my favorite mezzes served in the kebab houses at home, a very memorable gastronomic experience.

Humble and fresh ingredients like tomatoes, onion, peppers transform to a magical taste with a touch of red pepper paste and extra virgin olive oil.

Ezme is a very typical Turkish mezze, served in kebab houses throughout Turkey. With a touch of hot red pepper paste and extra virgin olive oil, these simple but fresh ingredients like tomatoes, onion, herbs and good olive oil produce this surprisingly complex yet refreshing and a very more-ish mezze. You can make Ezme ahead of time, so it is very entertaining friendly too.

There are quite a few variations for Ezme; my favorite is the way it is done in the Southeast Turkey, where my roots are from.  Biber Salcasi,  Turkish red pepper paste is a major staple in the regions of Gaziantep  and Antakya and a little of this wonderful paste adds such a rich, complex flavor to the Ezme. You can also make red pepper paste at home with my recipe, easy and delicious. An important trick to Ezme is to rub the red pepper paste and tomato paste to the onions with your hands so that the paste infuses; these also soften the onions and make them more palatable.


You can serve Ezme over crackers or pita bread as an appetizer; it can also accompany kebabs, grilled meats and roasted vegetables beautifully too. Why not try Ayran, delicious Turkish traditional yoghurt drink to accompany this wonderful feast?

Turkish cuisine has a long and rich tradition of incorporating hot and cold mezes, regional, delicious dips and salads, variety of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free courses. They have all been included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table; Signed copies are now 20 % off and delivered worldwide including USA, at this link. We also have this lovely Ozlem’s Turkish Table apron on sale here, with the embroidery of my home town Antakya’s daphne leaves in the design.


Serves 4                                   Preparation time: 15 – 20 minutes

4 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, halved, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2-3 small spicy pointy green peppers, seeds removed and finely chopped(use less or more depending on how spicy you like)
15ml/1 tbsp red pepper paste (or a little less if you prefer less spicy) – If you can’t get red pepper paste, you can add a touch of spice with 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
15ml/1 tbsp tomato paste
Juice of half a lemon
Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
30ml/ 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the red pepper paste and tomato paste with the onions in a bowl. Knead and mix them well with your hands so that the paste infuses to the onions; this also softens the onions and make them more palatable.  If you can’t get red pepper paste, you can add a touch of spice with 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes and infuse them to the  onions with the tomato paste.

Ezme is ready to be enjoyed; though not traditional, I like to add a few walnuts over Ezme when serving, for extra texture and taste.

Stir in the tomatoes, peppers, parsley and mint, combine well. Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil over. Season with salt and ground pepper and give them all a good mix. Cover and keep in the fridge until serving. It would be best if you can let the Ezme sit for an hour or so before serving; this will help the flavors mingle & settle.

You can prepare Ezme ahead of time; it tastes even better the next day!

Ezme is delicious over flat bread, crackers, pitta bread. I like to add a few walnuts over when serving, love the added texture and taste it adds.

Though not traditional, I like to sprinkle a few walnuts around Ezme when serving; I love the added texture and taste walnuts brings to Ezme.

I hope you enjoy making your own Ezme, and that it brings happy memories of your visit to Turkey or inspires for a visit! : )

Afiyet Olsun,



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34 Responses to Ezme; Spread of Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers with Red Pepper Paste

  1. jaz January 22, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    i knew i would love this before i even saw the photos. i am heading out this afternoon to find the biber salcasi. i am going to make this for my daughter’s next event in DC. thank you so much for another wonderful recipe!

    • Ozlem Warren January 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

      Merhaba Jaz; you are wonderful, thank you so much! I hope you and your daughter enjoy Ezme! You can also make red pepper paste at home. My best wishes, xx Ozlem

  2. Barbara January 22, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    I’ll do exctly the same as Jaz and try and find some pepperpaste, this looks just too tempting!

    • Ozlem Warren January 22, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

      Very kind of you Barbara 🙂 I always have a spare red pepper paste jar handy, I wished you were close by and I would be happy to share! You may think of making your own, not difficult and great taste; you can use in casseroles, sauces and salads, a majjor staple in my kitchen!:) x Ozlem

  3. BacktoBodrum January 22, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    I love comparing your South East recipes with our South West recipes. The food here is generally very mild in the Aegean compared to The S. East. We sugar and salt our onions for 30 mins to take away the bite and even then, ezme is probably the hottest dish on an Aegean table.

    • Ozlem Warren January 22, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

      Thanks, I must say, I love Aegean flavours; the olive oil, fresh herbs, fish etc, though I have a soft spot for the spicier Southern eastern Turkish
      flavours:) Ezme really is a favorite all around, glad in Aegean too. I bet it would taste wonderful with the delicious Aegean olive oil : )

  4. Joy @My Turkish Joys January 22, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

    Luv ezme! Hope to see you next month in Istanbul. 🙂

    • Ozlem Warren January 22, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

      Thanks Joy! I’d love to see you in Istanbul in Feb. too – will be in touch!:)

  5. Oznur January 23, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    Ablacim, it looks so attractive! Even though this is our family’s one of the most favorite Turkish mezes, I have not had the opportunity to prepare it myself. Thanks to you, I will definitely give it a try sometime soon. I myself can have Ezme not as only as a appetizer but as a main course 🙂

    • Ozlem Warren January 23, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

      Canim Oznurcum, cok tatlisin : ) Very kind of you, over the moon to find your comment! I can easily join you to have Ezme as a main course 🙂 cok sevgiler xxx Ozlem

  6. TasteofBeirut January 23, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

    I missed sampling this mezze dish while in Istanbul, so I am glad I get to discover on your site. It is exactly the kind of food I can practically live on! yum!

    • Ozlem Warren January 24, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

      Hi Joumana; glad to hear you liked the Ezme recipe; one of my favorites too – enjoy 🙂

  7. jaz January 23, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    check out my blog today when you have time!

    • Ozlem Warren January 24, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

      You are a star Jaz! I just checked your wonderful Ezme post and your amazing spread to go with it – superb! I just wished to join in for dinner: ) My heartfelt thanks for your mention and having a go at Ezme!

  8. Phil in the Kitchen January 24, 2013 at 12:13 am #

    This is exactly what I need in snow and cold of winter – some spice and some sunshine. I’m happy to have plenty of red pepper paste, although finding really good tomatoes is a bit of a struggle at this time of year. I really like that idea of sprinkling on some walnuts.

    • Ozlem Warren January 24, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

      Thanks a lot Phil; the red pepper is a life saver even the tomatoes isn’t so good; they do give a punch of flavor – and I love adding the walnuts too!

  9. Vanessa @ Cakes and Teacups January 25, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

    I love all of these ingredients! I want to try it! I’m pleased to have found your blog through Phil’s blog. I am one of your happy followers now and looking forward to learning and trying your dishes : )

    • Ozlem Warren January 25, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

      Dear Vanessa; thank you so much for stopping by and your kind comment – delighted to hear you will have a go at the dishes – please let me know if I can help 🙂

  10. April Ozbilgin January 26, 2013 at 2:05 am #

    Ozlem, I love ezme and yours looks amazing! Elleriniz saglik!

    • Ozlem Warren January 27, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

      Thank you so much April, it is a pleasure to share, afiyet olsun!:)

  11. Peri's Spice Ladle January 27, 2013 at 12:27 am #

    The flavor combination of onions, peppers, tomatoes and walnuts is so wonderful, Ozlem…this is delicious! And I do have the red pepper paste on hand, Gilly has kindly been my supplier since the Turkish market is a bit far from here:) Can’t wait to try this out! XxPeri.

    • Ozlem Warren January 27, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

      Many thanks dear Peri, red pepper paste is such a staple in my kitchen too 🙂 Glad you liked the recipe : ) xx Ozlem

  12. Deborah Kaplan April 2, 2013 at 4:03 am #

    Would you ever use canned tomatoes or do they ruin the taste? Thanks, Deb

    • Ozlem Warren April 2, 2013 at 4:08 am #

      Hi Deborah, I wouldn’t use the canned tomatoes, it would make it soggy you really need to use fresh tomatoes and feel the bite of tomatoes. Any good tomatoes would work – hope you enjoy it! Ozlem

  13. Sonia October 20, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    Sure gonna try this out in Holland when my Turkish Fiancee comes over. Tesekkurler Edirim.

    • Ozlem Warren October 20, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

      Delighted to hear it Sonia, afiyet olsun – hope you both enjoy Ezme!

  14. frankalien April 21, 2017 at 6:54 pm #

    Ozlem, the recipe sounds delicious, the only thing bugging me is your measurements. A handful? c mon Arkadash, measure/weigh it out for your followers. 😉

    • Ozlem Warren April 22, 2017 at 1:49 pm #

      Merhaba, thank you for your comment; it is quite common to mention the amount of herbs as “handful”, Jamie Oliver does it all the time : ) Liquid and other measurements always given, hope you can give it a try, trust me, it is delicious.

  15. Robin Devine July 13, 2019 at 4:09 pm #

    JUST finished making this…and it is delicious!
    Made your recipe for red pepper paste as well..
    Thank you for an easy to follow recipe and a bowl of yum!

    • Ozlem Warren July 15, 2019 at 9:33 am #

      Merhaba Robin,

      I am delighted to hear you enjoyed it! well done for making your red pepper paste too; such a delicious, versatile condiment, a must in my kitchen; thank you for your kind note.

      By the way, I also have a cookery book with over 90 authentic Turkish recipes, called Ozlem’s Turkish Table. Signed copies now 20 % off until end July and delivered worldwide, including USA, if you like a signed copy. It can be ordered at this link (please enter promo code: summer-sale at the check out at this link for the discount) :

      Afiyet Olsun,

  16. Nancy Payton May 1, 2023 at 3:02 pm #

    In my city there used to be a mediterranean restaurant that served something like this before the meal. Covid-19 got the best of that restaurant, and now we have nothing like it. I have been searching for the recipe for that dip ever since. Their dip was also available at a few boutique outlets so the packaging included the ingredients list. first ingredient was onions, second was celery. I don’t know if they used the celery to extend the amount of product without too much impact on the flavor, or if the onion and celery version is a completely different mezze. I miss that food soo much!

    • Ozlem Warren May 2, 2023 at 3:01 pm #

      Merhaba Nancy,

      Thank you for your note, glad you are an Ezme fan too! Traditional recipe doesn’t have celery, as much as I know, but not a bad addition, in moderation. Suxh a delicious, versatile dip, hope you enjoy making at home! Afiyet olsun, Ozlem


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