Harissa is a potent chili paste that is widely used in most North African cuisine, specifically Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. This fiery blend of dried chilies and spices is an excellent accompaniment to tagines, couscous, rice dishes and also pairs well with all meats and fish.
Harissa is used both as a condiment and as a flavoring ingredient in many soups, stews, and curries.
Based on the region, harissa can be made with dried chilies that are soaked overnight, and then slow-cooked with fresh garlic, red pepper, and toasted spices including cumin, coriander and caraway seeds, until the mixture forms into a thick paste.
Or, after the chilies are soaked they are placed in a grinder along with all the other ingredients and some lemon juice, then ground into a thick paste.
Depending on your predilection for spiciness, you can use mild chilies, like Californian or New Mexican varieties.
For extra heat add a little cayenne pepper to the blend; if you like spicy flavors, you will definitely enjoy experimenting with the different ways to make and use harissa.
For a creamy, sassy marinade you can mix harissa paste with thick yogurt and olive oil. Yogurt causes the cooking meat to turn a golden brown while remaining moist and tender.
Another way to use this saucy spice is to place a teaspoon of harissa paste in the middle of a plate, then drizzle some olive oil over it, and add a side of babaganoush, tahini, or hummus and don't forget the pita or flatbread. Even spiking up salad dressings would be a quirky way to balance a fresh, crisp garden salad. Imagine the coolness of cucumbers and lettuce jazzed up with harissa salad dressing — yum!
We usually make a batch of harissa and store it in the fridge for up to a month, using it as needed. You can simply make harissa paste by adding dry harissa spice blendwith fresh chopped garlic, then just enough oil to create the consistency you desire.
With so many culinary uses, harissa is a fantastic way to add a flavorful punch to any food. Your dips and sauces will never be the same. All it takes is a spoonful of harissa for that extra kick and you will be amazed at the crazy genius ways for using this zesty ingredient count on it!
Try our delicious Chicken Harissa recipe and serve it with a side of couscous or a rice dish. Just click on the link below: