Make Ahead


August 20, 2010
3 Ratings
Author Notes

I have been making this interpretation of harissa for years, and it's positively addicting. Not only is it fiery from chiles, it's sweet and smoky from roasted red peppers, and aromatic with toasted, freshly ground spices. It's extremely versatile and can be served as a condiment, garnish, marinade and dip. It's delicious with grilled meats, chicken and fish, mixed into rice and couscous, or served straight up with veggies for dipping or bread for mopping. - TasteFood —TasteFood

Test Kitchen Notes

I’ve bought little jars of harissa for years and while I’ve found ones I really like, now that I’ve made this recipe I don’t think I’ll ever buy harissa again. This is just delicious; the combination of the cumin, coriander and caraway seeds is perfect. I used a little chopper instead of mortar/pestle to grind up the spices once I had toasted them, and the flavors they contributed were great! And no big surprise, it gets better with time. I added mint to it at the end and used it as a marinade for some lamb and it was to die for! - ChezSuzanne —The Editors

  • Makes 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2-3 red jalapeno or serrano chiles, stemmed, chopped with seeds (the more you add, the hotter the harissa)
  • 2 large or 3 medium red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded, coarsely chopped
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or mint leaves (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. Toast cumin, coriander and caraway seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until aromatic, 1 minute. Transfer to a mortar with pestle. Grind seeds to a fine powder.
  2. Combine ground seeds, garlic, chiles, red peppers and 1 tablespoon olive oil in bowl of food processor. Process, adding additional olive oil if necessary, for a thick sauce-like consistency. Add ground pepper and salt.
  3. Let harissa sit at least one hour and up to 24 hours before serving. (Refrigerate until use.) Before serving stir in chopped cilantro and/or mint, if using.

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