Monday, July 22, 2013

Meet Harissa

I love condiments, particularly spicy condiments, so I’m wondering why it took so long for harissa and I to meet. Harissa is from North Africa and I’m from North America but since when, in 2013, does geography throw a wrench in our eating plans? While I’m all for local bounty, I also love coconut water, matcha and Himalayan salt. So it was probably just bad luck that harissa and I hadn’t crossed paths.
My first harissa spotting was at Le Pain Quotidien. I enjoyed what I tasted but their harissa is very thick, almost a paste. I was intrigued and ordered harissa from one of my favorite sites was the Mina brand harrissa and I have to say I fell in love. I've since learned this harissa is widely available even sold at West Elm (a desk and some condiments anyone? weird).

I dipped veggies in harissa, added it to scrambled eggs, folded some into my sardine/avocado combo and used it on grilled chicken breasts. For every ingredient I tested harissa on, it passed with flying colors. I want to try this recipe for salmon, kale and harissa next.

As much as I love to cook, I’m not someone who feels you have to DIY for everything if someone else can make it better. I’d cop to laziness but it’s really, without getting too deep, about insecurity. Can mine be as good? With Harissa, I didn’t think so but because of this blog post I decided to try. I used this recipe.

On a 100-degree day I cranked up my oven to 500
Roasted my peppers

Diced my chilies (not the Thai chilies the recipe called for but long green hot peppers). Remember the chili pepper/metabolism connection?  I also used ground coriander versus seeds (it’s all I had).
blurry, spicy chilies and garlic
 Combined everything in the Vitamix (recipe says to do in 2 stages but needed the volume for Vitamix to work).  I spooned the blended harissa into a weck jar,  refrigerated it as directed and you know what? Just as good as Mina’s.
Have you already met harissa? Do you make it yourself? What do you use it for? What's your current favorite condiment?


  1. Harissa and I are semi-aquatinted. Although I haven't tried any officially made harissa yet, I made a pesto-y pistachio spread using the flavors of harissa, and it turned out to be seriously amazing! (If you want to try it, it's super easy and you can find it with my cauliflower soup recipe). Current condiment of choice is either tomato chutney or hot jalapeño sauce, which seriously make me sweat (or should I say glow :-)

  2. glow EA, glow. Jalapeno anything is so my speed, have to check out cauli soup but only if I can eat it cold.

  3. LOVE love harissa, I usually add it to hummus or to marinate shrimp before grilling.
    There's a spice merchant in the city that has a great harissa paste, but I did try to do it myself recently, I used the recipe from Daphne Oz's relish book. Was good, but I'm going to keep an already made version on hand anyway.

  4. I discovered harissa in Gweneth Paltrow's new cookbook. She has a great harissa chicken recipe that was super easy (other than the deboning of the chicken, which I decided to do using a Jacques Pepin tutorial on You Tube that turned out fine, but took a bit to figure out). It was very tasty. My only issue was I can't figure out how long the harissa lasts in my refrigerator. Any thoughts on that?

  5. Harissa at West Elm. I'm beyond weirded out.

    I never knew what harissa was but I know I've eaten it. Something is very wrong about that but I trust LPQ too much to doubt them!