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Grow and Make Harissa Paste

A recipe for harissa paste with ingredients you can grow yourself

Grow And Make Harissa Paste

grow your own | recipe | preserving

Harissa is a delicious hot chilli-based paste which is used in North African cuisine - particularly in Tunisia and Algeria - typically as a spicy rub or marinade for meat and vegetables. It can also be added as a condiment to any dish which you want to spice up. You can now buy harissa paste in most supermarkets, but a home made paste will always taste much better.

A tin of North African harissa paste

Harissa paste is made from a selection of easy to find, and with the help of a greenhouse (or warm climate) easy to grow ingredients.

Harissa Recipe

The basic ingredients for a typical Harissa paste are as follows:

100g dried hot chillies (bird's eye chilli peppers, serrano peppers)
8 medium cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Caraway seeds or 1 tablespoon Cumin powder
1 tablespoon Coriander powder
lemon juice is sometimes added, and a teaspoon of smoked paprika can be added for a smokey flavour.

If you want to grow your own harissa see the following articles for advice on growing the key ingredients:
Growing Garlic.
Grow Your Own Chilli Peppers.
How do Dry Your Own Chilli Peppers.

Put the dried chilli peppers into a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave them to soak for around half an hour until they re-hydrate and become soft. Take the chillies out of the water and cut off and discard their stems. Keep the now chilli-infused water to one side in case you need it to thin your finished paste.

Toasting caraway seeds for harissa

If you prefer to use caraway seeds instead of cumin in your harissa, heat a dry frying pan until it just starts to smoke. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately throw in the caraway seeds and shake them around for 20 seconds, and then leave them in the pan until it is no longer hot. Grind the still warm caraway seeds in a pestle and mortar to release their flavour.

For a paste with a bit of texture it is best to chop and mix the ingredients by hand, but a food processor can be used for a smooth harissa paste. If you wish to use the food processor, just throw all the ingredients in and mix it until the paste is smooth.

Making harissa paste by hand

To make harissa paste by hand, put the chilli peppers on a chopping board and sprinkle the salt over them to help bring out their juices. Add the garlic cloves and chop everything together until it forms into a dry paste. When you are happy with the texture, put this mixture in a bowl and stir in the ground caraway seeds (or cumin powder if you prefer), the coriander, and smoked paprika if you want a smoky flavour. Finally fold in the olive oil.

Whether you have made your paste with a food processor or by hand, you can stir in a tablespoon or two of the chilli pepper soaking water to thin the paste if it has ended up a bit too thick.

Harissa paste marinade for chicken thighs

Your harissa paste can be used immediately, or stored in a sealed glass jar in the fridge for months. If you intend to keep the past for a while before using it, pour a little oil over the top of the paste in the nearly full jar to keep any air in the jar off the paste and help to keep it fresh for longer.

Article Published: 12:57, 30th Jun 2011

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