Harissa, the basic condiment in Tunisian and Maghrebian cuisine, is extremely versatile: it can be used for meat, fish, vegetables, or into stews and soups or even with rice and couscous. The lovers of hot foods are going to particularly like this recipe but the amount of heat can always be adjusted by adding less number of chillies or more peppers.
Harissa is a North African hot chilli pepper paste. The main ingredients of harissa are red peppers, and other hot chilli peppers, spices such as garlic paste, coriander seed, cumin seeds… as well as olive oil and salt for preservation. Harissa is most closely associated with Tunisia but is also common in Algeria, Morocco, Libya and Syria among other places.
Harissa is sometimes described as “Tunisia’s main condiment”. In Algeria, harissa is commonly added to soups, stews, and couscous or karantika. In Tunisia, it’s used as an ingredient in a meat or fish stew with vegetables, and as a flavouring for couscous. It’s also commonly used in Moroccan cuisine as a side condiment for tagines, or mixed into dishes.
In our country, it can be found everywhere. It’s an essential condiment in Algerian cuisine and can be used with dishes but it’s always better to have our homemade version.
Generally, there’s two kinds of Harissa (or Hrissa like we call it in Algeria) recipe: one which is made with fresh chillies and another one made with dried chillies. For this recipe, we choose to test it with the fresh chillies.
Here are some tips for making harissa :
- Generally, for the preparation of harissa, the red peppers and hot chillies are roasted than blend but we prefer to steam them as the resulted paste will be more creamy.
- You can use other spices like coriander, cumin, fennel, … or even roasted seeds and blend them.
- Harissa paste will keep in the fridge for a couple of months and if you cover the surface with a layer of olive oil, it will keep even longer.
- 250 g red hot chilli pepper
- 1 red pepper
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 20 ml olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp hot pepper powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- Prepare the ingredients for the recipe.
- Wash the pepper and chillies.Cut off the green top and chop the red hot chilli peppers.Cut off the green top and chop roughly the red pepper.
- Transfer the chillies and the pepper to a steamer.Add garlic cloves and the bay leaf.Steam for about 20 minutes.
- Transfer the steamed pepper, chillies and garlic cloves to a food processor (or a blender).Blend until it forms a smooth paste.(Optional) Pass the paste through a strainer to have a more smooth texture.Add Lemon juice, olive oil, hot pepper powder, salt, cumin and mix all ingredients.
- Over medium heat, add the mixed paste and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until a dark smoky colour and almost caramelized.Store in a sterilized jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or even longer.