Harissa tastes like a very flavorful hot sauce. The flavors in harissa are not restricted to spicy chilies. In fact, you can make harissa as spicy as possible or as mild as possible. I like to mix different varieties of dried red chilies. In this batch, I have 6 oz. of guajillo chilies and 6 oz. of dried red chilies from the Indian store (which are quite spicy). I know of people who would love to have harissa made at least 50% of dried habaneros (not me). You can make harissa from sundried roasted red pepper and sundried tomatoes as well and skip the chilies. However, a small amount of this condiment adds a ton of flavor to your food.

In addition to the dried chilies, harissa also had roasted spices, garlic and some acid in the form of lime or lemon juice.

I like to use this condiment as a sandwich spread. It tastes great with avocado toast or a veggie burger. It is very versatile and can be even used as a dip by adding a teaspoon of harissa to sour cream or yogurt.

Mild Medium Spicy  
12 8 6 oz. dried guajillo chiles
0 4 6 oz. any other spicy dried chili
4 4 4 oz. sundried tomatoes or roasted red peppers
1 2 3 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 2 3 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 2 3 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 2 2 tablespoons olive oil
10 15 20 cloves garlic
3/4 3/4 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 3/4 1 tablespoon of lime juice
1 1 1 zest of one lime
1/4 1/4 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • Roast the coriander, cumin, and caraway seeds in a dry pan for a few minutes and immediately transfer from the pan to a bowl. Do not keep the spices in a hot pan because they can go from roasted to burnt very quickly. Once they release the smoky aroma, stop immediately to prevent them from burning.
  • Soak both varieties of dried red chilies in a bowl of hot water for at least 20-30 minutes until the chilies are softened.
  • If you are using sundried tomatoes or sundried red peppers, include them in the soaking process as well.
  • While the chilies are soaking, heat the oil in a small container on an extremely low flame and add the garlic to gently cook them until the raw smell is somewhat reduced in about five minutes.
  • Zest the lime and keep aside.
  • Once the chilies have softened, drain and add to blender along with spices, garlic and oil. Blend to a consistency you like. I like mine smoother to use as a sandwich spread.
  • Transfer to a large bowl and add lime juice, zest and chopped mint and mix thoroughly.
  • At this point, divide the harissa into smaller containers (enough for a couple of days’ worth) and spoon a small amount of oil over the top before freezing the container.


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