Harissa is a spice paste originating from North Africa, with numerous regional variations and styles (such as rose harissa). Most harissa recipes call for a combination of roasted red peppers, chilies, and garlic as well as spices like cumin and caraway. Harissa can lend smoky spice and gentle sweetness to dishes without overpowering heat – perfect as a marinade for chicken, fish, shrimp, and veggies. Even though harissa is traditionally used in dishes like Lamb Tajine or Shakshuka, it can also be used to give a boost of flavor to some of your favorite dishes.
Harissa can be found in the international aisle of some grocery stores, at specialty stores catering to a North African or Middle Eastern audience, and online. However, it’s super fun and rewarding to make from scratch! Not only is making your own harissa more cost effective (try making a large batch and then freezing it in single-use increments), it also allows you to have more control over the level of spice the paste carries.
Looking for some fun ways to add harissa to your cooking repertoire?
-Stir a spoonful of harissa into store-bought hummus, adding an easy, flavor-packed special touch!
-Add a dab of harissa to your next batch of homemade vinaigrette, drizzling it on anything from crisp green salads and grain bowls to a tray of roasted veggies.
-Try stirring harissa into freshly cooked rice, adding it to your favorite marinara sauce, or mixing it into your next batch of burgers.
-Add a delicious layer of smokey heat to roast chicken by swapping out butter and your usual roasting spices for a yummy layer of harissa!
Looking for a place to start? Check out Yotam Ottolenghi’s delicious recipe for harissa here!