In thirty years of cooking I've never tasted anything like these unique red-black pepper flakes from the Turkish town of Urfa. They've got a sweet, soft, smoky, raisin scented smell that's ravishing. And what they do to food? Unspeakable! Special deep purple peppers are picked, cut, dried in the sun by day, then wrapped and sweated at night for over a week. That little trick turns them burgundy, almost black. In the process the peppers pick up a rich, earthy flavor and smoky aroma.
With a meaningful but still moderate level of heat, Urfa pepper flakes are easy to use. In Turkey they're added to all sorts of finished dishes—always at the end, not during cooking. (My guess is that's because the aroma is pretty special, but I've added them at all stages of cooking.) You can sprinkle them over almost any salad, pilaf, pasta or meat. Culinary writer John Thorne really likes them mixed with mayo for a spicy, smoky spread. At Zingerman's Bakehouse they use it to spice the turkey chili they sometimes offer for lunch.
Urfa pepper adds enormous depth of flavor and character to any dish. Your guests will wonder what you've done to create such flavorful food.