Introduction: Homemade Harissa Chili Paste Condiment

Harissa is a popular spicy condiment in North Africa and France. It is frequently used as an accompaniment to couscous and as an ingredient in making merguez sausages. More recently, harissa has become a trendy ingredient all over the place. Generally it is available in jars, cans and tubes. The authentic stuff comes from Tunisia, but you can have fun making it yourself at home using dried chilis and some spices.

Step 1: Ingredients

You will need:

100g of dried chilis.

2 garlic cloves.

1/2 tablespoon of coriander (powdered or seeds).

1/2 tablespoon of cumin (powdered or seeds).

1/2 tablespoon of caraway (powdered or seeds).

1/2 tablespoon powdered ginger.

1/2 tablespoon of salt.

3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil.

Step 2: Start With Dried Chilis

  1. I used dried puya chile pods, readily available from any supermarket with a Mexican section. Any dried hot chili pepper will do.
  2. Wear rubber gloves. This is important because you will be handling the chilis extensively during the prep.
  3. Put the dried chilis in a bowl.

Step 3: Remove Stalks From Chilis

Remove and dispose of all the stalks from the chilis.

Step 4: Deseed the Chilis

Break the chilis into large pieces and squeeze them to allow the seeds to fall out. The number of seeds directly contribute to the hotness of the harissa. You do not want to make it so hot that the heat overcomes the flavor. It is OK if some seeds are left in, but not all of them.

Step 5: Reconstitute the Chilis

  1. Cover the dried chilis with hot water and leave for an hour or so.
  2. You will see that the water changes to a reddish color.
  3. Drain the chilis in a colander and set aside.

Step 6: Prepare the Spices

If you are using seeds, grind them up using a spice or coffee grinder. Once ground into a fine powder, mix with the powdered ginger and salt.

Step 7: Blend Ingredients Together in a Food Processor

Put the chilis and garlic cloves in a food processor and blend together. Then add the spices and continue to blend.

Step 8: Add Oil

Add the olive oil to the mixture and blend for several minutes. Add more oil if necessary to get a creamy consistency. It should be evenly coarse, with no large chunks of chili left. Taste and season with more salt if necessary.

Step 9: Optional: Process for Canning

If you are not going to consume the harissa immediately, you can perform a canning process. Sterilize a glass jar and lids, then add the harissa to it. Close the lid and cover with boiling water for several minutes. Remove the jar and allow to cool. You will hear the lid pop to indicate that a seal has been made. I keep the harissa in the fridge and it lasts several weeks.