In its most basic form, Harissa, a North African chile sauce, is made with dried chiles, garlic, olive oil and spices. I’ve added lemon juice, zest and red wine vinegar to brighten flavors, and tomato paste for body. I also opted for dried chiles that fall into the “sweet and complex” category rather than smoky or spicy. A blend of ancho, mulato and guajillo chiles provides a fruity base with intriguing depth of flavor. I've adapted this recipe from the New York Times. —Kitchen Konfidence
medium dried chile peppers, stems removed*
red wine vinegar
grated lemon zest
cloves garlic, finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
kosher salt, plus more to taste
In This Recipe
Soak chile peppers in vinegar for 30 – 45 minutes (until soft). Add chiles, 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). Season to taste with additional kosher salt.
* I used a mixture of 1 ancho chile, 1 mulato chile and 3 guajillo chiles, and my Harissa turned out complex and flavorful (not spicy)! Feel free to experiment with different types of dried chile peppers. Dried chipotle peppers will give your Harissa a smokier flavor. Chile de arbol will bump up the heat factor.
Kitchen Konfidence is a collection of recipes and techniques aimed to inspire the home cook to do more in the kitchen.
About Brandon: I enjoy cooking with seasonal ingredients, making ice cream and shaking up some killer cocktails. When I am not cooking and taking pictures of my food, I am at the beach, carousing with friends, taking day trips up the 5, or engaging in all manner of computer geekery.