This chili-based condiment has a definite kick and is widely used in Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian cooking. It is served as a side dish in which to dip pieces of grilled and barbequed meats, stirred into soups and stews or served as a condiment with couscous. Harissa is sometimes added to a purée of fresh tomatoes and offered as a dip for kebabs or snacks. When added to natural yogurt, harissa is an excellent marinade for pork and chicken.
Basic Recipe for Harissa
- 12 dried red chilies
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 to 6 tablespoons of olive oil
Discard the stems and some of the seeds from the chilies, then soak the chilies in warm water for 30 minutes, until softened. Meanwhile, dry-fry the coriander and cumin seeds to bring out the flavour and grind them to a powder. Pound the garlic with the salt, then add the drained chilies and pound the mixture until it is smooth (you can also use a blender for this).
Add the spices and gradually mix in the oil, trickling it in and mixing until it is well blended and of a mayonnaise-like consistency. Use at once or store in an airtight jar. Flood the surface with a little more olive oil to make a seal.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Note: For a less pungent harissa, use only 5-6 chilies. Grill and skin 2 red peppers and remove the stems and seeds. Purée the red peppers and mix with the other ingredients.
Recipe for Harissa 2.0
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) coriander seeds
- 2 tsp (10 mL) caraway seeds
- 2 tsp (10 mL) cumin seeds
- 5 dried hot red peppers, seeded
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (60 mL)
- 2 jars (370 g each) roasted red peppers, drained
- 2 tsp (10 mL) honey
- 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
- 1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
In a small dry skillet, toast coriander, caraway and cumin seeds, and hot peppers over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. With spice grinder, or in mortar with pestle, grind to fine powder; transfer to food processor. In same skillet, heat half of the oil over low heat; fry garlic, turning occasionally, until deep golden, about 5 minutes.
Scrape oil and garlic into food processor. Add roasted red peppers, mint, remaining oil, honey, salt and pepper; purée until smooth. Let stand for 1 hour before using. (Refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 2 months.)