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I’m Making Harrisa Paste, originally uploaded by Lameen.

Looks spicy hot, doesn’t it ? Well ! it is. It’s freezing where I’m not, Europe and USA and it’s boiling where I am, Cape Town, so I think this post crosses the divide, keeping those who are cold warm and making those who are hot relish summer food with spicy barbecues and foods from the Orient. Wow ! what a mouthful, so here goes… the making of HARRISA PASTE (from scratch).

The origin of this spice is usually attributed to northern Africa and most often Morocco. In summary, its a combination of garlic, olive oil and of course red chillies. I must confess, you can actually buy really good pre-made stuff from specialist shops, but as you know by now, nothing beats making your own from scratch and it couldn’t be simpler, trust me.

You need:

3 tablespoons of dried red chillies (and nowadays you can get this from your local supermarket) soaked in 3 tablespoons of boiling hot water
3 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons of paprika (optional)
2 teaspoons of coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
2 teaspoons of coarse sea salt
Olive oil to preserve and to gel the paste
ONE Pestle and Mortar

Leave your dried chillies in the hot water and pound together (in a pestle and mortar – the traditional way) the rest of the ingredients (except the olive oil) until a paste forms and the ingredients gel together.

Now, add the wet red chillies to the rest of the ingredients and continue pounding but gently, as although the dried chillies would have soaked up most of the hot water, you don’t ant to splash red stuff everywhere. Once you’ve mixed everything together add your olive oil, which should ideally cover the mixture.

Your harrisa paste should last a few weeks in the fridge if you can’t keep your hands off it and adding it to everything, even toast with cheese and harrisa. If you love couscous, you can add it to that too as well as use it to marinade chicken with a bit of yoghurt, oven baked and served with potatoes or couscous for a real Moroccan Fete.

Inspired by a recipe from Bill Granger