Harissa paste is often described as the ketchup of the Middle East. Harissa is added to dishes to enhance flavours, used as a condiment, or even slathered onto a chunk of bread.
What is harissa paste?
Harissa paste is a hot, aromatic chilli paste originally from the Barbary coast of North Africa. The main chilli in harissa paste is the Tunisian Baklouti – a large, fiery red chilli pepper. These are pureed with garlic, coriander and salt, and spices that differ depending on where in North Africa you try it.
Harissa is most closely associated with Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Libya. It is so deeply rooted in Tunisian cuisine, that harissa is sometimes described as Tunisia’s national condiment.
How do I cook with harissa paste?
Harissa paste is a great ingredient in marinades, bringing the fruity heat of chilli peppers and fragrance of coriander in one ingredient. Try adding a spoonful of harissa paste to a lamb stew, or use to marinate chicken before roasting or barbecuing.
Put a North African twist on your burger by using harissa paste instead of ketchup. Or use it to spice up a tomato sauce for chicken, lamb or goat and serve with rice. Harissa is also popularly used to flavour couscous – stir a spoonful through a steaming bowl of couscous and serve with roasted vegetables.
Whisk the harissa paste with water and a little oil to emulsify and make harissa sauce or dip. This is great with freshly baked flatbreads and roasted aubergine slices.
How do I choose which harissa paste to buy?
This is the classic harissa paste you can add to anything – just squeeze and go!
Rose harissa is also available – rose petals add a floral fragrance and slight sweetness. This is a particularly good partner for chicken.
Or try verbena harissa – a blend of verbena and green chillies rather than red. It’s less fiery than the classic and rose varieties, but still hot. The lemony fragrance of verbena makes this harissa fantastic with white fish.
You can also find harissa spice powder to add to dry spice rubs or for sprinkling over finished dishes. Harissa spice powders may use cayenne pepper instead of Baklouti, but will still contain coriander and garlic.
Stuck for inspiration? Try our recipe for Harissa Roast Sea Bream with Preserved Lemon Potatoes – a one-tray wonder bursting with bold, fresh flavours.
Ingredients: Red hot peppers (87%), garlic, coriander, salt, caraway
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