Sep 4, 2011



Moroccan cuisine is now trendy in nl.

Don’t look at me; I have no idea what it is that makes food trendy or not. What do I know? At the end of the day I’m just a mom who’s glad she managed to get enough veggies into her kid without force-feeding him.

I still remember when Sushi became a hype here. Anyone who wanted to be someone would hang around a sushi bar pretending to know how to eat with chopsticks while nearly choking on a wad of wasabi.

Trendy sushi places—mainly decorated in black and red with gold dragons all over the walls—popped up and people who turned up their noses at our herring were suddenly paying mucho dinero for thin slivers of raw fish with cucumber, rice, and vinegar.

Again; don’t look at me. I don’t eat anything that looks back at me from my plate or that I can still perform CPR on. Yup, I’m a wuss and proud of it.

But Moroccan cuisine is in a league of its own and (in my opinion) deserves to be trendy. Harissa is one of those now ‘trendy’ condiments I have been addicted to for many years.

What is it? It’s an incredible Tunisian spicy chili sauce that adds loads of flavor to soups, stews and livens up even your sandwiches.


6 red chili peppers (roughly 9 oz)
2 large garlic cloves
1/4 tsp ground pimento (allspice berries)
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp tomato puree
1 tsp white wine vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
pinch of sugar


I make my Harissa mainly for warmth and flavor. If you want a really spicy Harissa leave in the seeds or opt for spicier peppers.

I use my mortar and pestle. It’s how I roll. Feel free to use ground spices or a spice mill.

Combine the cumin seeds…

With the coriander seeds.

And add the caraway seeds. Cumin and caraway seeds look an awful lot alike, but taste different! Keep that in mind.

Add the coarse sea salt and start mashing it up until you have a medium ground.

(I was working on a double batch here, so my quantities might look a little off)

Finely chop the peppers, remove the seeds if you like, and grate the garlic. Add it to your food processor along with the oil and white wine vinegar.

You can also continue the recipe in your mortar, it will probably turn out even better, but it will take a lot of time.

For a bit of freshness and pizzazz I always add lime juice.

Add the pimento (using a ground version this time for exact measurements), a tiny pinch of sugar and add the spices from my mortar.

Add the tomato puree and blitz until you have a wicked orange/reddish and fragrant sambal.

This will sure liven up your soups, sauces or stews. Mix some with mayo and spread it on a sandwich. Mix a little with oil and serve it as a dip along with crusty bread. Lots of ways to use this wonderful condiment.

Store it in your fridge with some extra oil poured on top. It will keep for ages.

    6 red chili peppers (roughly 9 oz)
    2 large garlic cloves
    1/4 tsp ground pimento (allspice berries)
    1 tsp caraway seeds
    1 tsp cumin seeds
    1 tsp coriander seeds
    2 tsp tomato puree
    1 tsp white wine vinegar
    4 tbsp olive oil
    1 tsp lime juice
    1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
    pinch of sugar
    Use a mortar and pestle or a spice mill and grind the caraway, cumin and coriander seeds along with the sea salt.

    Coarsely chop the peppers (remove the seeds for less heat) and grate the garlic. In a food processor you combine the remaining ingredients and add the spice mix you just grounded.

    Add the tomato puree and blitz until you have a fragrant sambal. Store in the fridge with a little olive oil drizzled on top.
Meal type: Moroccan, condiments, sambal
Servings: several portions
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    1. 1

      Lovely version of Harissa, Kay! I lived in Montreal for ages with a Moroccan man…was also a magician in the kitchen…i learned so much from him! Everything from couscous to tagines! YUMMO!
      True, suddenly this cuisine is SUPER hot in NL…Have you seen the kookboeken from Merijn Tol? Wonderful books filled with recipes from North Africa and the middle east….have you christened the tagine as yet?

      Suzie on Sep 4, 2011 @ 2:04 pm Reply
      1. You bet I have! Will post the result on the blog later this week!

        Merijn Tol? No idea who he is but will check him out!

        Kay on Sep 4, 2011 @ 2:11 pm Reply
    2. 2

      thanks very much for this recipe.  For a while now i have been making a green version,spinach
      spinach and cilantro, but have always wanted to try the *real* deal.  Will come back once made.  thanks again

      clive on Sep 4, 2011 @ 2:07 pm Reply
    3. 3

      Oh wonderful…Always wanted to try making harissa at home, but never got down to it…This is huge help !! Moroccan food is really yummy, and most of the spices are the ones used in Indian cooking, so this shouldn’t be a problem…thanks again !

      Arch on Sep 4, 2011 @ 2:27 pm Reply
    4. 4

      I JUST bought a mortar and pestle yesterday, and I’ve been dying to make harissa!
      All my dreams are coming true.

      Bev Weidner on Sep 4, 2011 @ 3:00 pm Reply
    5. 5

      Looking forward to what you are making with the harissa. I am not familiar with Maroccan food :)

      Arrisje on Sep 4, 2011 @ 3:56 pm Reply
    6. 6

      This looks really good! Like how the color pops off the screen.

      Lori on Sep 4, 2011 @ 4:34 pm Reply
    7. 7

      Great flavor combination!  It would be great in so many things, marinades, sauces, drizzled on eggs even. YUM!

      Judy@Savoring Today on Sep 4, 2011 @ 4:40 pm Reply
    8. 8

      Ik kende dit gerecht nog niet, maar het klinkt wel erg lekker.

      Femke on Sep 5, 2011 @ 10:02 am Reply
    9. 9

      I thought i’d seen it all…however saw today in Groningen in a big electronic shop…and electric tagine! Bizarre!

      Suzie on Sep 5, 2011 @ 1:19 pm Reply
    10. 10

      I now have an idea how to make use of my mortar and pestle. thanks for this recipe! Keep it up!

      DanielMiles on Sep 5, 2011 @ 3:41 pm Reply
    11. 11

      perform CPR….ik lig helemaal in een deuk hier. Maar je hebt zo gelijk….heb hetzelfde. Dat is net dat je je eigen vis mag uitkiezen….no thank you :)

      LoyoyaNL on Sep 5, 2011 @ 4:02 pm Reply
    12. 12

      My mouth is on FIRE just looking at that! Woo! Looks very yummy though, I have to admit!  I’ve always wanted and mortar and pestle. Hmm.

      Trish-in-MO on Sep 5, 2011 @ 8:18 pm Reply
    13. 13

      Harisa is a fav of mine. as an Israeli, we have a lot of Moroccan immigrant and the morrocan food is amazing. i love the spiciness, and it’s so fresh.
      glad it’s catching up in NL ;) 

      Gal Granov גל גרנוב (@galg) on Sep 6, 2011 @ 8:38 am Reply
    14. 14

      I love harissa, but haven’t been able to find it anywhere. This recipe sounds so do-able. I also have your Moroccan dipping sauce bookmarked too that I’ve been wanting to try.

      Wandering Chopsticks on Sep 6, 2011 @ 7:32 pm Reply
    15. 15

      I should have had this recipe a little earlier. I needed harissa a  few days ok for a recipe and decided to buy a premade one… It was the kind that they make ‘fresh’ sort of in stores but someone had gone bonkers on smoking the peppers. It was just far too overpowering! But now I know how to make it myself!

      Simone on Sep 13, 2011 @ 11:54 am Reply
    16. 16

      Made the Harissa tonight, worked an absolute treat!
      Smeared it all over some chicken breasts, perfect to go on some salad leaves & some new potatoes.

      Had to vary from the recipe a tad as I didn;t have any Chilis, only Scotch Bonnets which are a bit too fiery to use 9 oz of :)
      So I used a mix of roasted sweet peppers & Scotch Bonnets instead. Which was still fiery, but not too fiery to consume!

      I now have a batch of Harissa at my fingertips in the fridge to use sparingly. Harissa does not lend itself to being used liberally….

      Jerry Hendy on Sep 24, 2011 @ 11:39 pm Reply
    17. 17

      How did I miss this post??? I’ve been wanting to use harissa but can never seem to find it. And now you tell me I can make it at home! Score.

      Jenna on Oct 26, 2011 @ 6:03 pm Reply
    18. 18

      Looks pretty awesome Kay! Will try this version next!

      Simone on Sep 25, 2013 @ 8:32 am Reply
    19. 19

      It’s funny really as I can still remember making Harissa for the first time. I was so amazed at how easy it is to make and yes the taste is awesome… I never get the ready made stuff again!

      Simone on May 16, 2014 @ 7:50 am Reply
    20. 20

      though i have my own recipe, but i will try this one too

      Rachid Hamasni on Mar 24, 2018 @ 2:24 pm Reply

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