Harissa Paste

Being a curious soul, I looked up harissa and this is what I found on IndiaTimes.com:

Harissa is a spicy condiment, which hails from Tunisia in North Africa. This condiment is a traditional chilli paste made with roasted red peppers, dried chili peppers, and a blend of garlic, cumin, lemon, salt, and olive oil. There are several variants of this condiment and each one has a distinctive use in North African cuisine.

Of late, the North African condiment has paved its way to the Mediterranean, Oriental and Asian Cuisines. The journey of this hot spicy condiment has been a result of the increasing love for fusion recipes and the culinary influx of cultures.

This stuff was everywhere a couple years ago. Everywhere. And now it’s a bit scarce….little tough to find. I never expected to find it at Costco, and that’s fine, but I know I’ve seen it at Co-Op and I certainly can’t find it now.

This isn’t me being unobservant….my daughter can’t find it, either. Is it an even “hotter” commodity than toilet paper? I just can’t see this being on everyone’s watch list – it’s spicy, and if you buy it, you’re at the mercy of the manufacturer as to how how it is. If you make it, you can decide the heat level. I’m a fan of that.

I went and found at least 10 different recipes for this and combined and eliminated according to my tastebuds. I would think this is another regional type of recipe or even familial. Every region or family has a recipe for this they prefer.

Ingredients:

  • 10 dried mild peppers – I used the guajillo that I already had – If you like spice, you can add other chiles -ancho, chiles de arbol, New Mexico chiles
  • 2 heaped tsp cumin seed
  • 2 tsp coriander seed
  • 1 tsp caraway seed
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1-1/2 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 TB lemon juice
  • 1 TB vinegar – apple cider, white wine, or white if that’s all you have
  • 1 red pepper, seeded
  • up to ¼ cup of olive oil
  • NOTE: You can use powdered spices rather than the seeds, just use less – start with half the amount and taste after blending together.

I learned a lesson today. If you are using dried chiles and are going to seed them and such, do it while they are dry. It saves your hands, it saves dealing with sticky seeds.

I messed up and put the peppers in a pan and heated the water to a boil, turned it off, let it cool, THEN tried to take the tops off and get the seeds out. Don’t. My sink was full of seeds and I was wearing a bread bag on my hand because I have no rubber gloves in the house. I ended up having to tear all the peppers in half so I could get the seeds at the bottom of each pepper out. It was a much longer job than it needed to be.

So, pop the stems off the chiles, knock out the seeds and then put them into a saucepan, cover them with water, bring to a boil and then turn off the heat and leave the peppers for about ½ an hour. Drain that water – it’s too bitter to use.

Put the peppers and the spices into a food processor….a blender might do the job, but I’m not sure it would break up all the seeds. I believe a blender would work better if you were using powdered spices.

Process that spicy mixture. Add the lemon juice, garlic, vinegar and process some more. You don’t really want this smooth, but smooth-ish. I actually could not find….didn’t bother to look for….my apple cider vinegar, but I did find fire cider from a couple years ago so I used that. Make sure you use a rubber spatula and push the mixture off the sides of the food processor back down into the mixture at least twice.

Fire cider is something everyone should make….that stuff will rid you of a cold in a day, I swear. First sign of a sore throat or stuffy nose, pour a shot of fire cider into a cup and add a little honey (the honey is for anti-bacterial purposes – and to make the stuff a little palatable) and shoot it down. It tastes like nothing you’ve ever had but that sore throat is gone in a couple hours, too afraid to come back.

Once your harissa is reasonably smooth, you can leave it as is, or you can add some olive oil. I did. It just makes the paste a little smoother.

Test for spice. I thought it was much spicier when I made it than when it had been sitting overnight in the fridge, so when you’re testing for spice, keep in mind when you’ll be using it. Right away will be different than after the flavours have blended.

This is a great condiment and absolutely keto and low carb. Plenty of flavour for your buck and has some good fat included.

This can be used on meat, sandwiches, in salad dressing, as a substitute for mustard – wherever your little heart desires.

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