A North African (Tunisian) hot chilli paste, the main ingredients of which are roasted red chilli’s including serrano chilli and birds eye chilli, and spices and herbs, including garlic, coriander seeds, caraway seeds, cumin seeds and olive oil for preserving, is also used in Moroccan cuisine.
Ideally used in tagine cooked meals, the spice combinations vary according to individual tastes and the heat tempering may be altered by increasing or decreasing the birds eye or piri piri chilli. Removing the seeds from the chilli reduces their fiery pungency. Fresh or dried chilli may be used in this recipe – be sure to don kitchen gloves when working with the chilli! I found that oven roasting or stove top toasting of the spice seeds delivered stronger flavours to this harissa. Options to add before blending the ingredients, are cooked carrots for a full bodied flavour. The olive oil preserves the paste well when refrigerated. When using the paste, the extra oil may be discarded.
The ingredients listed below yield 6 tablespoons of aromatic Harissa paste.
6-8 large dried red chilli (I used cayenne)
6-8 dried or fresh birds eye or piri piri chilli
4 cloves large garlic
2 tsp caraway seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp Himalayan or Sea Salt
¼ – ½ cup olive oil
Optional: 1 tblsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more as you prefer – this will reduce the chilli heat.
- If using dried chilli, soak them for 30 minutes in warm water, until soft, then remove the stems and (if you prefer) the seeds too. I kept the seeds intact for chilli heat.
- Add the chilli, fresh garlic, seeds, salt and olive oil into a high speed blender or food processor and blend until a paste develops.
- Bottle and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks – use as desired for a Middle Eastern taste to your favourite foods.