Harissa is one of the most famous North African spice blends. It is especially valued in Morocco, Tunisia and other Maghreb countries for its fresh, spicy flavour. It's often used to flavour dishes like falafel, mezza or couscous.
There is no fixed recipe for Harissa, because its ingredients always differ a little from region to region. Chilli, garlic, coriander, cumin or paprika are classic, traditional ingredients for the blend. Harissa consists of up to 20 different spices, but the main ingredient is always chillies. The spice blend can be used in the form of a paste or powder.
Spaniards travelling from America brought chillies with them when they came to Tunisia, giving the Tunisians the base for their Harissa spice blend. From there, Harissa quickly spread across all of the Maghreb region countries in Northern Africa. The mix is even used in breakfast foods.
Harissa is pleasantly spicy and full-bodied in taste, regardless of whether it is used as a paste or a powder. If the blend contains mint or paprika, it has a slightly, fruity, refreshing taste. If it has spicier chillies in it, the mix can be quite hot.
Harissa Paste Recipe
Harissa paste tastes best when freshly prepared. Here's a recipe for making it!
10 large chillies (choose how spicy they are based on your personal taste)
1 clove of garlic
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp caraway
Optional seasonings to add (depending on your personal taste):
Orange peel (untreated)
Lemon peel (untreated)
Halve the chillies and remove the seeds and pulp. Next, chop the chillies into small pieces.
Chop the garlic and place it in a mortar with the chilli pieces or use a hand blender to blend the chillies and garlic into a paste.
Roast the cumin, coriander seeds and caraway seeds in a pan without oil for around two minutes.
Grind the roasted spices into a powder and then add it to the paste.
Mix all of the ingredients well and season with salt.
You can also add vinegar, ginger, mint or lemon juice to taste.
Keep the paste in the refrigerator and use it as quickly as possible. For longer shelf life, you can put the paste in a small container and pour olive oil over it until the paste is completely covered. The paste keeps longer when covered in oil as no air can reach the paste. Store in the refrigerator.
Harissa powder has a longer shelf life than the paste. To make the powder, simply follow the instructions above using dry ingredients.