Friday, April 17, 2009

Homemade Harissa, the North African hot chili sauce

Cliccare QUI per la ricetta in italiano

This is the way i make Harissa, a classic spicy sauce of Arab cuisine.

  • Kashmiri chilies (15/20) or any other red chili more spicy according to your taste
  • red bell peppers (3)
  • garlic (3 big cloves) - raw or sauteed with olive oil
  • cumin and coriander roasted and ground (one teaspoon)
  • few fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)
  • lime juice and vinegar (one spoon each)
  • salt
  • extra virgin olive oil
Kashmiri chilies are very dark red and the mildest chilies sold in India - the normal ones are impossible to eat according to me.
  1. Wash dried chilies, remove stalk and seeds to make it even milder [optional]. Cover with water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. I change the water after the first boil, but if you like it very hot don't do it. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then remove from heat and let sit till the chilies are soft and swelled.
  3. Drain in a colander and let them dry while you grill the peppers.
  4. Grill the bell peppers until they are well charred, and use only the red ones for this sauce.
  5. Keep covered in a bowl for 10/15 minutes so that the charred skin will be very easy to peel.
  6. Place all the ingredients [except oil] in a food processor until you get a smooth sauce.
  7. Taste and adjust salt or spices according to your taste.
  8. Mix the oil with a spoon at the end, fill a jar and keep in the refrigerator always covered with oil on top.

Charred and peeled peppers are simply fantastic just dressed with salt and extra virgin olive oil and nothing else, in case you wonder what are you going to do with the other ones.

I am sure you can manage your own version of Harissa once you make this basic one. More garlic or less pepper, raw or sauteed garlic, even no pepper if you get the right kind of chilies, parsley or basil instead of cilantro and even rose petals and you get always a very fiery red paste to spice up your dishes.

And this is according to me the best combo, steamed "Sweet potatoes & Harissa".
Here you see also the Indian cluster beans [Gavar] stir fried with green soy sprouts. Gavar is a very common kind of vegetable here and i like it because it has a slight bitterness that reminds me of chicory, one of my most loved green leaves, that i miss so much.

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