Harissa (Arabic: هريسة) is a North African hot chili pepper paste whose main ingredients are roasted red peppers, hot peppers and other spices and herbs such as garlic, coriander seed and especially caraway as well as some olive oil for preservation.
It is most closely associated with Tunisia, Libya and Algeria, but recipes vary according to the household and region. Variations can include the addition of cumin, red peppers, garlic, coriander, and lemon juice. In Saharan regions, Harissa can have a smoky flavor.
As noted on belazu.com:
Traditionally Harissa is most closely associated with The Mahgreb region, specifically Tunisia, the northern edge of Africa touching the Mediterranean Sea, made up of the modern countries Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Libya.
The name Harissa comes from the Arabic verb harasa, meaning ‘to pound’, or ‘break into pieces’. It’s thought to originate from Tunisia, where shoppers in spice souks watch it pounded out while-u-wait. The simplest versions are just the bare bones: chillies, salt and olive oil.
Most historians think chillies first landed in Africa as a result of the Spanish occupation of Tunisia in 1535-74, when chilli peppers first started turning up at the souks (it’s fun to imagine what Tunisian chefs would have made of these fiery new ingredients…what do you think?).
Over the next 500 years, chilli would go on to fire the taste buds and imaginations of cooks all over the globe, in just about every culture. In North Africa, they popped up as Harissa.
While my Harissa is predominately Tunisian in style, it does include flavor components from other North African regions as well. I’ve included 5 (!) different dried hot peppers plus both fresh and roasted to really layer the flavors into a seamless symphony of tastes! You can of course reduce the number of kinds of peppers or change them to your taste! You can buy most, if not all, of the dried peppers here.
You can also dilute the paste into a Harissa table sauce for use on pretty much anything except dessert to add a level of pungent heat and amped flavor to your meal.
Enjoy, my Citizens – I believe you will find this to be an exceptional recipe indeed! 🙂 if you do desire, also try the rare Tunisian green Harissa or even the ultra-rare Harissa made with rose petals!
Battle on – The Generalissimo