Saturday, September 8, 2012


I don't know what kind of strange magic happens when I make this's really spicy and yet somehow it doesn't hurt my wimpy tongue or make me gag and cry, which is what usually happens when I eat the really hot stuff (not pretty). But I just can't get enough of this. If you've never had harissa, it's a traditional African condiment that you can put on/in almost anything (vegetables, chickpeas, chicken, fish, steak, lamb, pork, soups/stews, sandwiches). Here it is slathered on a beautiful grilled swordfish steak. Mmpf. I've been known to just dip some nice crusty bread in it. I've also been known to eat frosting with a spoon, but that's another post.

Yield: 3/4 to 1 cup

4 to 6 oz. bird’s eye chiles (or other very hot peppers), seeded and stemmed
12 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried mint
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1.      Place the chiles, garlic, cilantro, salt, mint, coriander, and cumin into a blender or food processor. Process until thoroughly mixed.
2.      Add some olive oil, one tablespoon at a time, and process until the mixture is very moist, but still thick. Taste and add adjust salt.
3.      Store in a bowl or jar in the refrigerator with the remaining oil poured in a layer over the top. 
4.      Each time you use the harissa, make sure that the top surface is covered with a layer of oil before you put it back in the refrigerator. Keeps in the refrigerator for 6 months (with layer of oil on top). When you run out of harissa, you can use the oil for cooking other dishes.
Serving suggestions:
Great served with chickpeas, chicken, fish, steak, lamb or pork. Try putting a dollop in soups or stews.  Also nice on sandwiches or straight up on bread.

barely adapted from (submitted by NORMM1)
hot peppers, garlic and cilantro

There were no bird's eye chiles at the store, so I went with
1 jalape
o and 2 habaneros. It's hard to say exactly how
many chiles to use since the heat varies. So you'll need to use
your best judgement, based on the type of hot peppers you buy.
everything in the food processor (except olive oil)

I don't think the addition of dried mint is
traditional, but it works (trust me). This stuff rocks.
oil added

This recipe is a paste (sometimes
harissa is made thinner, as a sauce).
storing with a layer of olive oil on top
glopped on grilled chicken
glopped on grilled swordfish

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