You think that you love Sriracha? I am sure that you have not tried Harissa yet.
Harissa is a well-known hot sauce from the North African and Middle Eastern parts of this world. It is tangy hot, but tempered by the sweet red peppers, roasted for intensity of flavour. This aromatic and spicy chilli paste can be used like a condiment, or added to dishes as they cook, or used to spice up soups, dips, eve your pizza. It is great with vegetables, roast potatoes and couscous. Slip just a little into your salad dressing. But a little goes a long way – it is a hot paste even if you are used to spicy food. In North Africa it’s also served in a pool of olive oil, for dipping bread into.
Harissa recipes vary between countries and regions, but it commonly includes chillies, garlic, olive oil, cumin, coriander, caraway and mint.
You might like to brows our other chilli pastes. Try Red or Green Chilli pastes, Chilli Jam with Deep and Complex Flavours, or Zhug, a Corainder and Chilli Paste. Or read How to Dry Chillies and How to Make Chilli Powder.
Harissa | North African Chilli Sauce | Chilli and Red Pepper Sauce
6 – 7 red chillies – mix up the varieties to add some diversity each time you make harissa
2 large red capsicums
good quality olive oil
1 tspn caraway seeds
1 tspn coriander seeds
1 tspn cumin seeds
1 tspn dried mint
1 tspn salt
4 garlic cloves, peeled
juice of 1 lemon
Char grill or roast the red capsicums until the skin is charred. You can do this over a gas flame, under a griller, in the oven or on a BBQ/grill. Allow to cool and peel off the skin.
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, add the chillies and cook for about 3 minutes until they soften. Drain and set aside to cool. Remove the seeds from the chillies.
Toast the caraway seeds, coriander seeds and cumin seeds over a medium heat until toasted – you will begin to smell the spice when they are close to being done. Transfer them to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind to a powder.
In the bowl of a blender add the spice powder, the peeled roasted capsicums, the chillies, mint, salt, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Puree until smooth. (You can leave it a little coarse if you prefer.)
recipe notes and alternatives
Tomatoes and rose petals are also common ingredients.
Use dried chillies in place of fresh – about 25-30 g. Rehydrate them first.
Some of the recipes use up to a Tblspn of each spice.
Leave out the lemon juice and cumin.
A half tspn fennel seeds can be added.
Saffron and/or organic rose petals (or rosewater) can be added.
Don’t forget to use harissa with abandon.