Chilli Paste (Harissa)

28 Sep

This is a thick sauce type of harissa, the kind you can serve with everything, even spread it on bread. It is  hot, but not REALLY hot, made with fleshy red peppers and chillis. I came up with this Harissa because our friend Graham, who came over here a few summers ago, wanted to know if I had a recipe for the harissa we all ate one morning at a local market because he’d been dreaming of it and wanted to make some back home in Australia. So I started experimenting and came up with this which I think, is even better than the one we ate in the market.

  • 500g red pepper puree (fresh peppers ground and sieved)
  • 3-5 fresh hot red chillis (to taste)
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp caraway
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp dried mint leaves, crumbled finely

Make the puree
To make red pepper puree choose thick fleshed peppers; sweet, hot and medium heat if you can, to give a more complex flavour. Wash the peppers, cut in half and remove the seeds and stalks. Put the peppers in a food processor and grind to a paste. Put the paste in a pan and cook for 15 minutes or so. Leave to cool. Press the pepper paste through a sieve, or use a vegetable mouli, to make a smooth paste and to get rid of the skins and any loose seeds.

After sieving I ended up with about 500g of pure pepper puree, which I put back into a clean pan. Dry roast the cumin and caraway, cool and grind with the fennel to a powder. Add the spice powder along with the remaining ingredients and cook until the mixture thickens. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. For storage; heat process the jars in a water bath, for 20 minutes. It should keep for a year or more. If you don’t want to keep it that long it will store in the fridge, for a month or more, in a clean jar, topped with oil to exclude air.
Note on the Heat
I used a mixture of sweet peppers and medium heat paprika peppers; Doux D’Espagne, Nardello, Paprika, Pimento de Barcelona, Pepperoncini, Buran, Satans Kiss and Anatohl. If you use only sweet peppers for the paste add more chilli peppers to increase the heat to taste. For the hot peppers I used cayennes & jalapenos .
Note on Texture
If you don’t want to go to the bother of sieving the pepper paste and don’t mind eating the skins by all means leave this step out. I had to do it because one variety of paprika peppers I grew had such tough skins they really indigestible and little bits can get stuck in your throat.

This recipe was originally posted on  13/10/2008

2 Responses to “Chilli Paste (Harissa)”

  1. inadvertent farmer 30/09/2009 at 16:36 #

    Just added you to my food blogs…can't wait to try this recipe! Kim

  2. Laura Hudson 01/10/2009 at 12:10 #

    Thanks – Do let me know how it turns out Kimcomments copied from mas du diable1. Christina wrote:Oh, this sounds so very, very good. This is one of the many reasons I want to grow more peppers next year.10/14/08 12:09:13 AM email website2. Laura wrote:I've posted a comment on your site Christina to just to let you know I've got a good combo of pepper seeds I could send you to make this harissa.10/15/08 11:32:48 AM3. Graham wrote:Thanks so much Laura! After lots of busy weekends, I've finally got a chance to get into our kitchen and make this. We're still filling out the kitchen and pantry, so this gives me great excuse to go out and buy a sieve, cumin, caraway and fennel seeds, and dried mint. I just hope our old blender works! I'll let you know how it goes.11/1/08 7:41:54 PM email4. laura wrote:I've got a jar earmarked for you Graham which will be in the post soon as. Well as soon as we can get down the track. We've had huge storms and part of the track has been washed away. It is still raining and we need to wait for the water to stop before we can get out.11/4/08 6:18:16 PM email website

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