Wednesday, March 29, 2006


I adore hot sauces, and I always have, even when I was younger. But I came by it honestly - I grew up with a mother who always carried a bottle of hot sauce in her purse. Even now, if we go out for dinner, I know a bottle of Cholula Hot Sauce is only a few feet away. (As an aside, I've been known to carry a travel pepper grinder, but that's a whole different story)

Anyway, I love to try different hot sauces, and there are literally hundreds of thousands of sauces. Hot sauces are also extremely easy to make. This sauce, harissa, is a staple in North African cuisine. There are quite a few variations, but the base ingredients of dried red chilies and garlic are always present.

This sauce can be used on virtually anything. You can use it as a hot sauce, or stir into rice or couscous for a great side dish. As for as heat goes, on a scale of 1-10, I would place this at a 7, with 10 being the hottest. You can always omit the cayenne pepper for a mild sauce.



1 1/2 oz dried chilies
2 c boiling water
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp caraway seed, crushed
1 c onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
4 tsp lime juice

Place chilies in hot water, and allow to soak for 30 minutes. Place peppers and water into food processor, and blend well. Set aside. Combine flour and next five ingredients. Set aside. Heat oil in pan, and saute onions and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes. Add flour mixture, stir well, and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add pepper/water mixture, and bring to a boil. Stir in tomato paste and salt, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Place mixture into blender, and puree well. Stir in lime juice and store in refrigerator.


Catherine said...

Hi fiber,

Great photo! I hope you will post a recipe or two showing how to use this. I just bought a jar of harrisa paste so I'm looking for ideas.

Anonymous said...

It's all about the hot sauce. Harissa is staple in the pantry, for sure. I like to substitute it for gochujang in some korean dishes like bibimbap or even in a stir fry. I came across a recipe that featured some dried mint. Weird sensation—burning hot and cooling at the same time.

And i love that you carry around a pepper grinder :)

K Allrich said...

Hola - lip smacking good!

jasmine said...

Lovely picture!

We've got a chilli plant and I need to harvest the little bombshells soon. I normaly dry them, but I think I'll try this recipe.

Thanks for visiting my site!

Fiber said...

Thanks for the compliments, everyone! This is a very tasty sauce, and adds such a nice bit of heat.
And Jasmine - I envy your pepper plants. Unfortunately, I don't have a garden, but I would have it filled with pepper plants if I did.

Anonymous said...


I love it! I come from a family where some of the men bring hot peppers in their pockets to functions. Seriously.

While I've never tried harissa, your recipe looks really enticing. I may have to give this a try!

Harmonia said...

This sounds right up my alley! Can't wait to try!

Anonymous said...

Just made this. It's still warm, but I had to have a taste and it's YUMMY!!! I added 5 garlic cloves, 1 tsp. salt and 8 tsp. lime juice. I just felt it needed a bit more acid and saltiness. I let my 13 year old son taste and he loved it! Thanks for the recipe. I'm addicted to your blog :-)

Tom said...

I would like to warn the peoples that this you may want to try using a mild-ish chili in making this harisa. I decided to use what I had on hand, japones...yeah, even without the cayenne what I ended up with is searing, to say the least. I may try it again sometime, but with a mild pepper.

magda o said...

I love harissa and it is nearly impossible to find near me... and when I have found it, it's not the same as I used to have back home..

How long do you think this would keep in the fridge? What do you suggest to keep it in? A small honey jar maybe?

I cannot wait to try this.

Unknown said...

this looks great. How much does it make?