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Recipe: Harissa, the exotic garlic chilli paste from Africa

harissa recipes

Harissa has been relied upon by cooks in North Africa for seasoning cooked meats and vegetables for a long long time. It’s very dependable, and highly flexible to most food. This sauce adds a wonderful depth of flavour to bring a spark to any dish, for instance a lightly spread onto falafel, rubbed onto slow cooked lamb, or served as a dip alongside bitesized snacks. This recipe is quite spicy, so use only a little bit of Harissa at a time. Thanks to the garlic, salt, and lemon used, Harissa should be safe to store in the fridge for up to 2-3 weeks.

harissa baked oysters recipes
Above: Harissa used in Baked Oysters.

Recipe: Harissa Paste

50 grams dried tianjin chillies
50 grams dried kashmiri chillies
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried mint flakes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon pink salt (or substitute with 1.5 teaspoons of kosher salt)
5 garlic cloves
Juice from 1 medium sized lemon
additional extra virgin olive oil based on size of your glass jar.

Cooking Method
1. Put chillies into a medium bowl, cover with boiling water, and let sit until softened, about 20 minutes. 

2. Heat caraway, coriander, and cumin in a skillet over medium heat. Toast spices, swirling skillet constantly, until very fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Skip this step to save time, but it really makes a noticeable difference.

3. Transfer spices to a grinder with the mint and grind to a fine powder. Set aside.

4. Drain chillies and transfer to the bowl of a food processor with the ground spices, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, garlic, and lemon juice. Purée, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the paste is very smooth, about 2 minutes.

5. Transfer to a sterilized 1-pint glass jar and fill with oil until ingredients are submerged by 1-2 cm. 

6. Refrigerate, topping off with a little more oil after each use. Harissa paste will keep for up to 3 weeks.


photo: Pyrogenic

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