Harissa – some like it hot

Remember when Red capsicum was 25c a pound? Me either. I think all the old people of the world congregate each year in Switzerland or the Bahamas to fix the prices of staples 60 years ago. I’m sure half of them leave for the convention each year, and forget where and why they’re going…forever to meander the earth, asking people where the nearest RSL is.

Harissa is a great condiment. Not only will you amaze your friends, but they won’t assume you bought it, because they’ve never seen it at their local purveyor of Norwegian gluten-free Beaver milk.

It’s dead easy, and there’s no hard and fast recipe, so you can fiddle with it as I have.


Of course, it involves chilli, so lets digress there for a moment. You can use any of the popular pastes. The sambal oelek from Indonesia is fine. It does have some Tamarind in it, making it a bit more sour, but for the amount you’ll use here it’s fine. Fresh is always best though, and the jalapenos you can buy at most supermarkets now, are medium hot, and very tasty. They are larger and rounder than the common, and much hotter birdseye chilli. No seeds, ever.

ok, back to the recipe…

Red capsicum, roasted for about 30 minutes at 150c, then into a plastic bag, closed tight til cool. Then preeled and seeded. 1 capsicum will make about 100ml in this recipe.

Tomato (optional). About 1/4 tomato per capsicum. Roast as above, and peel and seed. Tinned is ok, but seed it and care not to use too much.

Garlic (ideally fresh, and roasted with the capsicum, to take the edge off – if so, 1 tsp/capsicum) or paste (1/4tsp/capsicum)

The following are used to taste. My advice is start with 1/4 teaspoon of each per capsicum, and increase to your taste. Remember, after you make it this is your recipe, and you’re as entitled to it as any Bedouin your likely to invite to your next piano accordian recital!

Cardoman (if you’re using pods, break them open and use only the seeds) or powder.

Cumin (seeds are better, lightly roasted in a dry pan for 30 seconds) or powder

Paprika (hot or not, 1/2 tsp per capsicum)

Chilli to taste (as discussed)

Olive Oil (1tsp/capsicum)

Coriander (I like using seeds, pan roasted with the cumin) or powder. You can use fresh if you like…

All blended…coarse, fine, it’s up to you! (I like it very fine)

This will keep air tight in the fridge for a week.

Use it as a dip on it’s own, or as a condiment for absolutely anything…yes, meat, fish, omlettes, as a salad dressing (on its own or mixed with yoghurt).

Seriously, this stuff is as versatile as your international student housekeeper, and just as good value!


2 responses to “Harissa – some like it hot

  1. Try adding grated lemon rind and juice to your harrisa and using it to rub well into a whole raw chicken as a spicy marinade. Roast and serve with other middle eastern inspired dishes. My favorite menu at the moment is harrisa roast chicken, pearl couscous with currents and pistachios and a big dish of ratatouille with some houmous on the side. Enjoy.

  2. good call..those tunisian chickens can’t get enough citrus…never yet one recorded case of a tunisian chicken with scurvy!

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