Harissa – a wonderful spice paste

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I find making my own spice mixes is just so rewarding. I especially love the way that as the ingredients combine the individual aromas almost melt into one another and you are left with ‘spice heaven’. One of the staple spices that I make and keep on hand is harissa – both the red and green variety (which are quite different) – which I can have ready and waiting in the fridge for whenever I need a ‘kick’ of spice, or of course, the recipe calls for its inclusion.

Here are my recipes for both red harissa and green harissa.

Red Harissa

2½ cups long dried red chillies, chopped (remove the tough stems)

1 tablespoon dried coriander

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 tablespoon coriander leaves

2 large garlic cloves, unpeeled

½ cup olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons sugar

Place the chillies in a large heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let them stand for about an hour fully submerged in the water until they are very soft.
Drain the chillies well and place them in a food processor. Add all the remaining ingredients and process until the mixture is smooth. Adjust the seasoning and spoon in a 2 cup sterilized jar and seal. It will keep in the fridge for about 4 weeks.

Green Harissa

1 cup olive oil

2 small cloves of garlic, peeled and bruised

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon sweet paprika

6 long fresh green chillies, seeded and chopped

2 green onions, sliced

¼ preserved lemon, rinsed, pulp discarded and rind chopped

1 bunch flay-leaf parsley- finely chopped

1 bunch coriander, finely chopped

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Place 2 tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan over a low heat and add the garlic and spices and cook stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, or until the spices are fragrant. Be careful not to brown the garlic. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
Place all of the remaining ingredients into a food processor and add the cooled garlic mixture. Using the pulse button, process until the mixture is smooth. Adjust the seasoning if desired and spoon into a 1½ cup sterilised jar and seal. As with the red harissa, it will keep for up to 4 weeks in the fridge.

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