I have just recently discovered Harissa and I have to say I am loving it! Harissa is a spice paste native to Tunisia but adopted in Moroccan foods and all northern African cooking. It is very easy to make yourself and can be adapted to your taste depending on your tolerance to spicy foods. I personally love it hot!
Harissa is used as a condiment as well as a flavoring agent for cooking. It is particularly good on fish, eggs, veggies, chicken…oh who am I kidding…I put that shit on everything! lol
If you search for Harissa recipes you will find a wide variety of ingredients. Every family has their own secret recipe. The common ingredients are chilies, garlic, cumin, caraway seeds, coriander seeds and olive oil. My recipe also adds ginger root, apple cider vinegar, lime and roasted red peppers. The acids of the lime and vinegar extend the shelf life so it lasts for months in the fridge as well as adding a bit more kick to the flavors. The ginger root and vinegar also adds extra health properties to the mix which is always a good thing.
You can adjust the taste by changing up the types of chilies used and whether you leave the seeds in or not. Most of the heat of chilies is found in the seeds so by omitting them you end up with a very mild sauce. Like it hot? Well then keep the seeds or use hotter peppers such as Habanero. I am including a chili Scoville heat chart below to help you select the best peppers for your taste. Besides the degree of heat they bring to the mix, they also have different flavors so I tend to use a mixture if I have them on hand, if not, then I use what is available.
I also like to add more olive oil to the top than necessary because I love infused oils and can use the flavored oil in salad dressings and for cooking. So that is an added bonus of making your own Harissa. I recently visited a gourmet olive oil store and they charge $10/200ml bottle of Harissa oil. So it is a major savings when you can get it for pennies as a bonus.
So here you go…go mild or go wild…either way you have to give Harissa a try because it is an amazing flavor that you will use all the time!
- 1/4-1/2 c Roasted red peppers
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1-2 c dried chilies of your choice
- 1-2 tbsp fresh ginger root
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tbsp organic apple cider with mother
- 1 cup good quality olive oil (divided, see directions)
- hot water for soaking chilies
Remove stems from dried chilies and place in a bowl or large jar and cover with hot water. Allow them to soak at least 2 hours till they are soft. I usually just put them in a large jar, cover and allow to soak overnight.
Drain chilies and remove seeds (or not if you want it hot). Place in a blender. Add 1/2 c of the olive oil and all other ingredients. Blend until it becomes a smooth puree. Stop and scrape sides a couple of times. Add more oil if necessary to make blending easier.
Pour into a jar. Gently pour a layer of olive oil over the top. This layer of oil will help preserve the paste and, as mentioned above, will give you that deliciously flavor infused oil.