First time I had harissa I was in NYC for work and a co-worker took me to this really unique Mediterranean/Moroccan restaurant for dinner. She told me that the couscous dish there was fantastic. And it was. The hot sauce/paste that they served on the side intrigued me – it was hot, full of flavor, and totally unique. Later, exploring with tagine recipes and meandering around the Mediterranean grocery store – I discovered it was harissa. For more info on harissa – here’s the wikipedia link.
This recipe is from Einat Adomny’s book “Balaboosta” – so far, I’ve made 4 dishes from her cookbook – and they’ve all been fantastic.
Here’s what you need: 1 red pepper (roasted), Hungarian sweet paprika, caraway seeds, cayenne, cumin, garlic cloves, tomato paste (that’s the frozen stuff in the ziploc baggie), canola oil, and salt.
And here’s how you make it:
Roast a red pepper. This can be done on your stove top flame – if you have a gas stove. If you don’t – 2 other options: If you have a broiler: broil in your oven, under high. Watching carefully and moving (carefully, and with tongs). If no broiler: heat a pan on high – lay the pepper on the pan, and allow to char before moving it to the rest. All options should take around 6-8 minutes – the intent is to get the outside skin charred, while cooking the inside flesh.
The pepper should be charbroiled – place into a bowl and cover with saran wrap – let it sit for 10 minutes.
While pepper is cooling off (and the skin is getting soft – easy to peel), get the rest of the items prepared.
I didn’t have ground caraway – so I had to grind the seeds: so use a mortar and pestle, or use a spice grinder – set aside. I kind of had fun using the mortar and pestle – made me feel connected to the history of this dish!
Ok – so let’s get this pepper finished. Remove from the bowl – and the easiest way I’ve found to remove the skin, is to take a paper towel and simply wipe the black skin away. Note: not every single piece needs to come off. If there are some bits still sticking, go ahead throw it into the dish. It adds smokiness.
After the skin is removed, remove the seeds and slice into thick strips.
Now, using a food processor, combine the following: 10 peeled garlic cloves, the red pepper slices, 1/2 cup of canola oil, and 1/4 c. tomato paste. Pulse until the mixture is almost pureed.
Add the cumin, cayenne, caraway, paprika, and salt. Pulse, then add the remaining 1/4 cup canola oil. Once combined – it’s complete!
Now, what to do with this? I used it in a tagine recipe, which will be posted soon. Delicious. I also used this batch to slather on boneless, skinless chicken thighs – that I then baked. If you make a couscous dish, like this one, you can put a dollop of this hot spice mixture on the side of the dish – and use it to season. It’s like any other hot sauce – use it in chili, add it to a soup, throw it in a rice steamer to season the rice or quinoa – options are endless.
The only modification I did from the original recipe, is I used about 1/2 cup less canola oil. If you want this to be more loose, add the remaining oil or (if counting calories) loosen up with water.
Really fun and different way to add heat to your dishes – than the conventional Red Hot or Tabasco sauce. although, i love me some Red Hot.
Harissa (Middle Eastern Hot Sauce)
Makes about 3/4 cup
Adapted from Balaboosta cookbook
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 5 min
Click here to print recipe
10 garlic cloves
1 large red pepper
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup ground cumin
1/3 cup cayenne
1/3 cup sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4 cup ground caraway
2 T. salt
- Roast the large, red bell pepper – place in a bowl and cover with saran wrap, leave for 8-10 minutes. Prepare pepper by removing the skin and seeds – and slicing into strips.
- Using a food processor, combine the following: 10 peeled garlic cloves, the red pepper slices, 1/2 cup of canola oil, and 1/4 c. tomato paste. Pulse until the mixture is almost pureed.
- Add the cumin, cayenne, caraway, paprika, and salt. Pulse, then add the remaining 1/4 cup canola oil. Once combined – it’s complete!