Here’s a chili paste that anyone from North Africa will already know well… Harissa is used in a multitude of hot/spicy dishes across the southern Mediterranean region and has a unique flavour profile you’ll love in a whole range of your own dishes where some heat is called for…
Like its cousin, the spice blend known as Ras el Hanout, this piquant paste is as old as its culture and there are as many recipes for it as there are cooks who love it.
The main ingredients are roasted Sweet Red and Hot Red peppers, skins and seeds removed, caramelized Onions (to taste), Garlic, Coriander, Cumin, Olive Oil and Lemon Juice. You may like the version favoured in some regions which includes Caraway or Fennel.
These are all simmered together until all components are soft, then mashed in a mortar and pestle into a thick, smooth paste. You can use a blender or a food processor to make your paste.
As you explore the Mediterranean cuisines, you’ll find many references to Harissa. Don’t be afraid to try them! Remember, although you can buy Harissa in cans or jars and sometimes in squeeze tubes ready-made, you’ll get the most pleasing result from a blend you make yourself. Among the many advantages: you get to regulate the level of heat! Harissa is traditionally eaten with Lamb dishes and Vegetable Stews. But think, also Chicken, Turkey, Pork and Game…
Enjoy a taste of Morocco!
~ Maggie J.