Harissa – a red chili paste made of peppers, oil and spices like caraway – is one of the most popular condiments across North Africa. In Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, harissa is served as a dip alongside just about everything, from fish to cous cous to French bread.
For more on this amazing Maghrebian wonder sauce, see here.
Although it’s possible to find homemade (and squeeze-tubed) harissa in many grocery stores in the United Arab Emirates, it’s just as easy – if not better – to make it at home.
20-25 dried red chili peppers
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon crushed caraway seeds
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon dried coriander
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oilStep 1: Soak the peppers for about 30 minutes in water on a slow boil. (You have to use dried red chilies for harissa. Otherwise, if you use fresh chilies, your paste will be too watery when you get to the blending phase. But you should soak the dried red chilies or the paste will be too dry and the food processor won’t be able to cut up the peppers enough in the blend.)
Step 3: Add the peppers, garlic, spices and salt to a food processor. Blend on high for at least a minute. Add at least 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the mixture. If there is not enough liquid to blend, add a quarter cup of water to the mix.
Step 4: Enjoy! You should be able to store this (very, very spicy harissa) in a refrigerator for at least a week.
Warning: consider turning on a fan or opening a window while blending these peppers. Even though they are aged, red chili peppers and their fumes can burn your eyes and nose during preparation.