Harissa is a spicy North African sauce or paste made of ground dried chile peppers, garlic, olive oil, and spices like coriander, caraway, and cumin. Primarily Tunisian, harissa is also used in Moroccan, Algerian, and Libyan cooking. Ranging in heat from mild to scorching hot, harissa is used as both a condiment and an ingredient that’s stirred into couscous, tagines (stews), soups, and pastas.
Look for harissa in tubes, cans, or jars at well-stocked grocery stores and specialty markets. Or try your hand at making a homemade batch, using this recipe.
Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Stem and seed the chiles and put them in a medium heatproof bowl. Add enough boiling water to cover the chiles and let soak until well softened, about 1 hour. Drain and squeeze out any excess water.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, lightly toast the caraway, coriander, and cumin seeds over medium heat until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool slightly and then grind finely with a spice grinder.
Put the chiles, ground spices, garlic, lemon zest, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1 Tbs. warm water in a blender. With the motor running, gradually pour the oil in a steady stream through the feed hole in the blender cap; continue blending until a mostly smooth, paste-like sauce forms. If the sauce is too thick to purée, add warm water 1 Tbs. at a time to loosen. Transfer the harissa to an airtight container and top with a thin layer of olive oil. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Make Ahead Tips
Harissa can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
nutrition information (per serving):
per 1 Tbs., Calories
2, Fat Calories
15, Saturated Fat
2, Monounsaturated Fat
6, Polyunsaturated Fat
Photo: Scott Phillips