If you have a weakness for spicy food, harissa paste is just what you need at hand. You can use this fiery concoction to marinate your meat and fish. A versatile ingredient like harissa comes to the rescue to pep up your salad dressings and even adds punch to scrambled eggs, and roasted vegetables. Though a bottle of this paste can be easily sourced nowadays, nothing compares to the homemade variety.
The best part is when you make a harissa paste recipe from scratch; you can tweak the paste to suit your palate. This spicy condiment associated initially with Middle Eastern and North African cuisines has evolved into a household favourite. To make the very best one for your kitchen, you need the following ingredients:
Dried Peppers of Varying Heat
Using a mix of dried peppers from the mild, smoked, to the medium and hot varieties gives you the best results. The more variety you bring to your harissa paste recipe, the more complex the flavours. If you like it spicier, increase the dose of hot chillies or else tone it down.
Add all the dried chillies to a large pot of boiling water. When they come to a boil, turn off the stove, cover the pot and allow the chillies to soak overnight or at least for a few hours. After draining the softened peppers, remove their seeds, stems and rinse them well under running water.
A traditional harissa paste incorporates caraway, cumin, and coriander seeds. For an added depth of flavours, you may also add clove, cinnamon, and smoked paprika. Dry roast your whole spices over medium heat till they release their aromatic fragrance. Subsequently, grind the spices to a fine powder using either a mortar and pestle or your reliable spice grinder.
Pungent Garlic Cloves
Adding a couple of garlic cloves to your harissa paste enhances its taste. Consuming garlic benefits you, owing to its many healthy properties. When you cook with garlic, its pungency tends to mellow and takes on a sweetish tinge. For this paste, you need the pungent garlicky kick, which comes through when you grind the garlic cloves with the other ingredients.
Healthy Olive Oil
Slowly drizzling olive oil into your running food processor as it blends all the harissa paste ingredients, helps to form a thick paste. As you do so, occasionally scrape down the liquid from the sides to ensure the oil incorporates well. Olive oil has healthy fats and acts as a natural preservative. It seals the paste from exposure to air, thereby preventing it from spoiling.
To finish off, add a sprinkling of salt and a dash of lemon juice. Transfer the prepared paste into a jar and refrigerate. Introduce your taste buds to this earthy, vibrant condiment and savour the joys of pure deliciousness.