How to make Harissa paste
My love of all things spicy has won. Again. I just can’t seem to stop it. There is nothing that excites me more than jazzing up a dish with spices whether they are hot or sweet or aromatic, all spices (and all things hot), just get me going. I fell in love with Harissa paste a few years ago when I first had it a Middle-Eastern restaurant, slathered over chicken before the chicken was flame-grilled to juicy-perfection. Since then I’ve been experiencing with this fiery, earthy paste with everything from vegetables and meat to fish and even in salad dressings. It is incredibly versatile and so easy to make yourself. And let’s be honest, the flavour of home-made Harissa can’t even be compared with the stuff you buy in the shops.
What I love most about making my own Harissa is that I can customise it to suit my palate. I am not a big fan of caraway seeds so I leave it out of my Harissa but I add loads of garlic, smoked paprika and coriander seeds as they are my favourites. I also add some canned, chopped tomatoes to my harissa to bulk it out and add sweet, tartness. Traditionally, red bell peppers are used in Harissa but I found these sweet pimento peppers in my local supermarket and found that their sweetness really complimented the fragrant depth of the spices and the heat of the fresh chillies.
A jar of harissa will keep in the fridge for at least a month but I doubt you’ll have it for that long. Once you get into using this stuff, you won’t be able to stop!
- 2x red bell peppers/sweet pimento peppers, charred and skins removed
- 5 peeled garlic cloves
- 1x 400g can chopped tomatoes, drained
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 x fresh red chillies (I used Serenade peppers but jalapenos will also work)
- 1 x fresh red bird's eye chilli
- 5-6 tablespoons olive oil
- salt & black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
- Toast all the spices (in the spice mix) over medium heat in a pan until fragrant. Grind in a pestle & mortar until fine and set aside.
- In a blender/food processor, combine all the remaining ingredients along with the spices then blend well until you have a brick-red, vibrant paste. Season to taste then transfer to jars.