Harissa is a North African chili sauce that is typically associated with Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. Recipes for Harissa can vary greatly from region to region; however most recipes have chili pepper, garlic and olive oil. This Harissa features a combination of California and Guajillo chili peppers, lemon, garlic, tomato, olive oil and a slew of wonderfully fragrant spices (all spices can easily be found at your local grocery store). Harissa can be used in many different ways. Here are some ideas: Mix a few spoonfuls of Harissa with plain yogurt and use as a dip or marinade. Toss with fresh pasta and vegetables for a spicy fusion dish. Spread a thin layer of Harissa on your burger bun for an exotic alternative to ketchup. Continue reading for the recipe.
Adapted from the New York Times.
5 medium dried red chili peppers, stems removed*
¼ cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon kosher salt
⅓ cup tomato paste
Soak chili peppers in vinegar for at 30 – 45 minutes (until soft). Add chilies, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and olive into a food processor and process until smooth.
In a small frying pan, lightly toast coriander and fennel seeds (no need to add oil). Grind up spices with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Add ground coriander and fennel seeds to the food processor with pepper, allspice, nutmeg, salt and tomato paste. Process until smooth (drizzle in extra olive oil if the mixture seems too thick).
Makes 1 cup.
* I used a mixture of 3 california chili peppers and 2 guajillo chili peppers and my Harissa turned out spicy and flavorful (but not 5 alarm)! Feel free to experiment with different types of dried chili peppers. Dried chipotle peppers will give your Harissa a smokier flavor.