Harissa is a spicy chilli paste from North Africa and makes for a wonderful edible Christmas gift. If you have any chilli lovers they'll appreciate a jar of this authentic North African harissa!
Harissa is not a sauce, it's a concentrated paste used for flavouring. It is fiery hot and strong. The first time I bought it I was surprised at the intensity of flavour untempered by the addition of sweetness like many chilli sauces. Harissa is unapologetically strong and hot. That's what makes it so delicious. It's ideal for adding to other dishes to flavour them with a salty, spicy hit.
The first mistake that people (including me) make is to dip a spoon into harissa and start eating. Sometimes, depending on where you buy it, it looks like Ayvar which is mild and can be eaten by the spoonful. But harissa is not something you can use as a dip or spread thickly on a sandwich.
Other uses for harissa paste: Add it to cream cheese for a dip or anywhere that you need a spicy chilli sauce. You can marinate meat in harissa and you can also braise vegetables in a little harissa mixed with oil too!
I was so excited that this harissa paste tasted just like the Tunisian one that I had tried so many years ago. It's funny how your mind remembers a food so clearly and as soon as it hit my tongue I remembered the first time I tasted harissa.
I was about to knock on Mr NQN's door to get him to try some when I realised that he was on a Zoom call and I overheard him say.
"As tempting as it is to not wear pants..."
Despite having very little interest in fashion or getting dressed, Mr NQN makes sure to wear pants every day when he is on his Zoom calls. As for me I had a zoom meeting the other day with someone in another part of the world and it was very early because of the time difference. I am not at my best until noon so I was busy rushing around and by the time I had connected everything I looked down and realised that I had no pants (I had underwear so don't give me that look LOL). My top half was presentable but I did spend some time reminding myself not to get up halfway through the call!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you do online calls? Have you ever skipped wearing pants? Do you like harissa?
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Authentic Harissa Paste
Rated 5.0 out of 5 by 1 readers
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 15 minutes plus overnight soaking for chillies
Cooking time: 10 minutes
This makes 2 cups of harissa paste (around 3 small jars)
- 65g/2.3ozs. dried chillies soaked in hot water for 6 hours or overnight ideally (I used Arbol, Ancho and Guajillo chillies)*
- 280g/9.8ozs. roasted capsicum (I used one in a jar)
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 tablespoons/60ml/2flozs. olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon edible dried rose petals (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon rose water (optional)
- 3 tablespoons/60ml/2flozs. lemon juice
- Salt for seasoning
If you find it difficult to source dried chillies you can use fresh. Use 2-3 of your favourite red chillies depending on the heat level you want.
Step 1 - Remove the stems from the soaked chillies and place them with the capsicum, garlic, tomato paste and olive oil in a food processor and blitz to become a loose paste. Thermomix directions: soaked chillies, capsicum, garlic, tomato paste and olive oil in the Thermomix bowl and set to 30 seconds speed #5.
Step 2 - Heat a frypan on medium high heat and add the caraway seeds, cumin and coriander seeds and dry fry without oil until fragrant. Remove from the pan and grind them in a spice grinder along with the rose petals if using. Add this back to the pan along paste mixture and rosewater (if using) and fry for 5 minutes until a little more concentrated. Add lemon juice and taste for seasoning adding salt if it needs it. Cover with a layer of oil to help preserve it in the fridge (make sure that it has the oil layer after each use).