Harissa – A Fiery Spiced Chilli Paste from Tunisia

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Harissa - A Fiery Tunisian Chilli Paste
Harissa – A Fiery Tunisian Chilli Paste

This post on Harissa is inspired by so many of my fellow bloggers.

  • Ever since Garima went on a culinary journey across the middle-east I have wanted to explore more of this region’s delicious cuisine apart from the Hummus, Falafel and Revani that I have tried. Do visit Garima’s lovely blog at http://www.cafegarima.com.
  • Elaine posted a medley of sauces (Harissa among them) in a single Let’s get saucy post which had me drooling. You will find some wonderful recipes at Elaine’s blog at http://foodbod.wordpress.com/.
  • Sridevi posted this wonderful recipe of Kenyan Masala Fries that made me realise how little I knew of the cuisine from the African continent. Sridevi’s blog at https://coconutcraze.wordpress.com/ is of my favourites as she has many traditional Indian recipes with others which seem exotic (to me) and challenge my cooking horizons.

Getting back to the recipe of the day, I wanted to try many a African recipe and found that many of them used condiments like Harissa and so I decided to make them first.

Harissa is a fragrant chilli paste that most Indians would love because it has familiar spices; yet it is quite unlike most Indian masalas in the final analysis.

Makes: 1/2 Cup

Preparation Time: 30 Minutes

Grinding Time: 5 Minutes


  1. Dried Kashmiri Red Chillies – 4
  2. Spicy Dried Red Chillies – 4
  3. Olive Oil – 2 to 3 tbsp + 2 tbsp for storing
  4. Ajwain or Caraway Seeds – 1/2 tsp
  5. Jeera or Cumin Seeds – 3/4 tsp
  6. Sabut Dhania or Coriander Seeds – 1 tsp
  7. Garlic Cloves – 3 Cloves
  8. Lemon Juice – 1 tbsp
  9. Salt to Taste


  1. Place the dried chillies in a large bowl.
  2. Boil about a cup of water.
  3. Pour the boiling water over the chillies. Ensure that the chillies are completely submerged.
  4. Let the chillies soak in the water for about 30 minutes.
  5. While the chillies are soaking:
    1. Peel the garlic cloves and set aside.
    2. Dry roast the coriander seeds till they start to change colour. Set aside.
    3. Dry roast the caraway seeds till they start to change colour. Set aside.
    4. Dry roast the cumin seeds till they start to change colour. Set aside.
  6. After the chillies have soaked:
    1. Remove the chillies from the water.
    2. Squeeze lightly to remove the excess water.
  7. Grind together the soaked chillies; roasted cumin, caraway, and coriander seeds; and garlic cloves into a coarse paste.
  8. Add 1 tbsp of lemon juice and grind to a coarse paste.
  9. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil and grind to a smooth paste. Add more oil, if required, if the harissa paste seems too dry.
  10. Add salt and mix well.
  11. If you are storing the Harissa:
    1. Transfer it into a dry container.
    2. Cover with a layer of olive oil.
  12. Each time you use Harissa:
    1. Mix well.
    2. Use what you want.
    3. Cover again with a thin layer of olive oil.

I would love to hear from you!

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