Harissa Paste and Sauce Recipes - Spice Your Life with Harissa

Harissa paste originated in Tunisia, and is now featured prominently in Moroccan food. Harissa is a delicious spicy combination of dried red chilli peppers, garlic, spices, fresh herbs such as mint and parsley, olive oil and lemon juice, all ground into a thick paste. Harissa is easy to make at home with a small food processor or a mortar and pestle.

You can buy various styles of harissa, but it is easy to make at home. The main advantage of doing itself is that you can control how hot to make it, and the combination of ingredients that suits your taste and planned uses for harissa. For example, some Moroccan recipes call for tomato to be used in the harssa paste. Some people like using fresh herbs, others prefer a stronger hot and spicy harissa.

This article provides several fabulous harissa paste recipes and so great example of dished that really benefit from harissa's magic touch.

Spicy hot harissa is a fabulous sauce that adds intrigue and flavor to many dishes. It originated in Tunisia and is popular in Moroccan foods. It isl aso great for grilled and roasted meat and barbecues
Spicy hot harissa is a fabulous sauce that adds intrigue and flavor to many dishes. It originated in Tunisia and is popular in Moroccan foods. It isl aso great for grilled and roasted meat and barbecues | Source
Harissa paste adds flavor and a spicy taste to many grilled meat dishes, barbecues, slow-cooked curries and tagine dishes
Harissa paste adds flavor and a spicy taste to many grilled meat dishes, barbecues, slow-cooked curries and tagine dishes | Source
Harissa is delightful when added to vegetables, pasta dishes, pizzas and roast meat sandwiches
Harissa is delightful when added to vegetables, pasta dishes, pizzas and roast meat sandwiches | Source
Moroccan chicken with apricots and nuts gets a spicy lift when harissa is added.
Moroccan chicken with apricots and nuts gets a spicy lift when harissa is added. | Source

Harissa Paste - Culinary Uses and Tips

► Add to the recipe or serve as a sauce for chicken wings and chicken nuggets. Use honey to smooth out the taste.

► Add to pasta sauces to provide a spicy lift to the taste.

► Use as a sauce for roast vegetables such as squash, pumpkin and carrots. Tossed harissa with julienned carrots.

► Add to breakfast egg sandwiches, devilled eggs and scrambled eggs.

► Add a spicy kick to a salad dressing by whisking harissa your favorite dressing. It pairs well with lemon flavored dressings.

► Stir harissa into mayonnaise. This makes a delightful dip and sauce for chicken and pork.

► Use harissa paste as a rub for meat such as pork, lamb and beef. The spices permeate into the meat if left to marinade before roasting or grilling. The harissa also imparts a lovely taste for the charred or browned skin of the meat.

► Harissa is widely used to add flavor and spiciness to vegan and vegetarian dishes.

► Mix harissa into yogurt to make a sauce for grilled meats and tandoori. This especially applies for Moroccan and Middle Eastern dishes.

► Mix a little harissa into homemade or bought hummus. This provides a delightful variation to the bland taste of hummus.

► Use harissa to make a sauce for hamburgers.

► Add tiny dollops of harissa to homemade pizzas to create 'hot spots'.

► Use harissa as a sauce for kabobs.

► Add as a sauce for hot meat sandwiches as a substitute for mustard.

► Use sparingly to highlight the delicate flavors of seafood. Try smearing a small Amount of harissa on piece of sashimi grade tuna before searing on high heat.

Homemade Harissa Paste Recipes

Hot and Spicy Harissa Recipe without Fresh Herbs

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 12 to 15 dried red chili peppers (about 1 1/2 oz; 100 g)

Method

Scrape out the seeds from the dried chili peppers. Place the chili peppers in a bowl and just cover very hot water. Set aside to soften for 30-60 minutes. Drain the chili peppers and squeeze out any excess water. Add the chili peppers to a mini food processor or to a pestle. Add the salt and spices and grind to a thick paste. Add the lemon juice and a little olive oil to help the mixture become smooth and well blended. The harissa can be stored in the fridge for several weeks. Cover the harissa with a thin layer and store in a glass jar.

Harissa Paste Recipe with Mixed Chillies, Sherry Vinegar and Caraway Seeds

Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 5 large red chillies
  • 2 dried chipotle chillies
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 large dried ancho chilli
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and crushed
  • 1 teaspoon preserved lemon skin, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted and crushed

Method

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C (425 degrees F). Place the fresh chillies on a small, shallow baking tray or sheet and roast for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Set aside to cool, then peel the chillies, discarding the skin. Next revive the dried chipotles and ancho chillies by placing in small bowl, covering with boiling water and setting aside for 30-60 minutes. Drain and add the revived chilli and roasted fresh chilli flesh to the food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to a smooth paste. Transfer to a clean jar, cover with a layer of olive oil, seal the jar and refrigerate. It will keep for several weeks.

Rich Harissa Sauces Recipe with Mint and Parsley

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 16 large mint leaves
  • 4 stems flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 oz (55 g) large dried red chillies

Method

Remove the seeds from the chillies. Place them in a medium-size bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let the chillies soak in hot water for about 30 minutes. Drain the chillies. Retain about 1 cup of the liquid. Put the soaked chillies in a small food processor bowl or a blender. Add the mint, olive oil, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse to form a smooth thick paste forms. Add some of the liquid from soaking the chillies to thin the mixture, but the paste should be thick. You can store the harissa paste in as glass jar in the fridge. Cover the surface with a thin layer of olive oil to stop a skim forming.

Rich Harissa Sauce Recipe with Mint and Parsley

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 large mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 stems flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 oz (55 g) large dried red chillies

Method

Remove the seeds from the chillies. Place them in a medium-size bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let the chillies soak in hot water for about 30 minutes. Drain the chillies. Retain about 1 cup of the liquid. Put the soaked chillies in a small food processor bowl or a blender. Add the mint, olive oil, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse to form a smooth thick paste forms. Add some of the liquid from soaking the chillies to thin the mixture, but the paste should be thick. You can store the harissa paste in as glass jar in the fridge. Cover the surface with a thin layer of olive oil to stop a skim forming.

Spicy Moroccan Harissa Paste Recipe with Tomato

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 oz (55 g) dry red chillies, seeds removed
  • 2 fresh red hot chilli peppers, roasted and peeled
  • 1 medium size red bell pepper, roasted and then peeled

Method

Soak the dry chillies in a bowl covered with hot water for 60-90 minutes. Lightly toast the caraway, cumin and coriander seeds in a hot pan until aromatic (about 5 minutes). Then, grind the seeds in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Add the garlic, spice mix, lemon juice, roasted chillies, tomato paste, roasted red pepper and salt to a blender or food processor and pulse to a smooth paste. Add olive oil in a drizzle to get the right consistency. Transfer the harissa paste to a glass jar. Cover the surface with a thin layer of olive oil and cover. The harissa paste can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.

Fabulous Recipes that Use Harissa as a Key Ingredient

Moroccan Chicken Tagine Recipe with Harissa Paste, Apricots and Almonds

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lb (500 g) chicken breast, diced
  • 3 chicken or vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 1-2 tablespoon homemade harissa paste
  • 1 (15 ounce; 250 g) can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 4 cups butternut squash, peeled or seeded, cut into cubes (or sweet potatoes or pumpkin)

Method

Heat the oil in a large deep pan or Dutch oven to medium-high. Sauté the onion, ginger and garlic for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, coriander, cumin, turmeric and cinnamon to the pan and sauté while mixing until until the chicken is cooked. Add the lemon juice, almonds, raisins, honey, harissa paste, chickpeas, bouillon cubes and water. Stir to combine all ingredients in the bowl and bring the pot to the boil. Then, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the butternut squash and simmer for an additional 25 minutes, until the squash is just tender. Serve with couscous and garnish with slivered almonds.

Fettuccine with Mixed Fresh Seafood, Tomatoes and Fresh Herb Harissa Dressing

Ingredients

  • 4–6 lemon wedges
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoons pepper
  • 25 g unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 g parsley, roughly chopped
  • 500 g (1 lb) dried fettuccine
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 regular green capsicum (peppers)
  • 1-3 fresh red chillies, finely diced
  • 500 g (1 lb) mussels, beards removed
  • 4 tomatoes, quartered, seeded and diced
  • 4 squid tubes, washed cut into thin rings
  • 360 g (12 oz) large raw king prawns (shrimp), peeled, and deveined

For the Green Harissa Dressing

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lemon rind grated
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 150 ml (1/2 cup) olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 green chillies, seeded and chopped
  • 65 g (2 oz) parsley, roughly chopped

Method

Pulse the green harissa ingredients in a food processor to create a smooth paste. Heat a heavy griddle pan on high heat (or a barbecue or stove grill) until very hot. Cook the whole capsicums, turning frequently, for about 5 minutes until the skin starts to char and blacken. Remove from the heat, cool and remove the skin and seeds. Cut the roasted capsicum into small cubes or slices. Cook the fettuccine in boiling salted water, until al dente (about 10 minutes). Cook the seafood in a large deep pan or Dutch Oven with a lid. Heat the pan and add 1/2 tablespoons of butter and olive oil. When hot, add the garlic and chilli and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the squid, mussels and prawns and fry for 2 minutes only. Add the water to the pan, cover the pan with a lid and cook for an additional 2–3 minutes. Discard any mussels that do not open. Add the tomato, capsicum, salt, pepper and 3 teaspoons of olive oil and mix to warm through and combine. Mix in the pasta and pour the green harissa on top. Transfer to a serving bowl and dress the dish with parsley, mint, coriander or other fresh herbs. Serve with wedges of lemon.

Green Lentil and Pumpkin Tagine with Harissa Paste

Ingredients

  • 2 butternut squash
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups green lentils
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 bunch of parsely, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons of homemade harissa
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro (coriander) chopped

Method

Rinse the green lentils thoroughly using plenty of cold water. Drain add add to 4 cups of cold water in a saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon of salt, bring to the boil and then lower the heat and simmer covered for about 20 minutes. Peel the pumpkin, remove the seeds and cut into small cubes. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or tagine dish to moderate-high. Add the onion and fry until soft and transparent. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute. Then add the cumin, turmeric and paprika and stir well. Next, stir through harissa paste and combine well. Finally add the tomato paste, lentils, pumpkin, tomato sauce and half the chopped parsley and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, cover the pan and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes until both the pumpkin and lentils are soft. Serve hot with extra parsley and cilantro (coriander) as a garnish.

© 2015 Dr. John Anderson

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Comments 2 comments

Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 20 months ago from Northeast Ohio

I'm not a big spicy and chili fan. But for those who love food hot and spicy, this recipe is super useful for them. Voted up!


Rachel L Alba profile image

Rachel L Alba 19 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

I never heard of some of the ingredients but they do sound interesting. The chicken with the apricots and nuts recipe sounds really good. I voted up and interesting.

Blessings.

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