Tuesday 11 October 2016


Over the past couple of weeks my stash of ripe chillis has grown significantly:

We have used quite a few chillis in our cooking just recently, but not enough to keep pace with the harvesting, so I decided the time was right to make another batch of harissa - or at least "harissa-like substance". In case you don't know this, harissa is a chilli-based condiment very closely associated with North African cuisines.

I tried making harissa this time last year and it was mildly successful, but I included tomatoes in my recipe, which I think diluted the chillis too much, so this time I just added a squeeze of tomato puree for its colour effect. Also, I made too much of it to use within a sensible period of time. This year I am making less of it, but more concentrated.

As you can see from my photos, I have a lot of the yellow "Aji Limon" chillis this year, so I didn't use all of them in my harissa. I thought they would make it too pale for my liking. I didn't have a enough of any one type to use just those, so my condiment was made from a mixture of everything!

Well, for better or worse, here is my recipe...

350g mixed chillis, halved and most of the seeds removed
4 cloves garlic - peeled and chopped
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp coriander seed
Half tsp caraway seed
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 squeeze of tomato puree (yes, I know that is not an official unit of measure!)
Approx 200ml water

Toast the whole spices in a hot dry frying-pan for a few minutes, until they pop and begin to jump
Remove the spices from the pan, allow them to cool and then grind them to a powder
Heat the oil in a large pan
When it is hot, add the chillis, garlic, salt, vinegar, tomato puree and spice powder
Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently and adding water in small quantities if the mixture shows signs of sticking.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then process in a food-processor until the texture of a smooth paste is achieved.
Decant into suitable screw-top containers and refrigerate

Since all the ingredients have been cooked, and the condiment contains salt and vinegar (both of which have preservative qualities) I think my harissa will keep pretty well. I put mine into two small containers, one of which I am going to freeze for later use.

By the way, if you look on the internet for harissa recipes you will soon conclude that there is no such thing as a definitive recipe - they all have variations. One that you might like to try is on the blog

Mike's Bean Patch . This is a recipe that was inspired by the one I posted last year!

Just for interest, here are a few photos of the process I have described.

The dry spices prior to toasting

Chillis and other ingredients in the pan

Cooking the mixture - stir frequently and add water if necessary

After 10 minutes of cooking - soft but not sloppy

The mixture is poured into the food-processor

After processing to a smooth paste

The finished product - spoonable, not pourable

I can't tell you how hot harissa made like this will be. That depends on your chillis. Mine contained a few Habaneros, the odd 7-Pot, a couple of "Devil's Tongue Chocolate" and lots more besides. Let's just say "It is HOT!"


  1. It must be great to have harissa from your own chillies. Very impressive!!! I've only made it once from scratch. I used to think the recipe was secret (similarly Tabasco) and always used the imported tinned sort until once, finding I had none in the store cupboard after cooking the couscous, I was forced to make some up using dried chillies. The recipe was very similar to yours but used lemon juice instead of vinegar - and a "glug" of olive oil. It was courtesy of Sally Butcher's ""Veggiestan". To my surprise it turned out very similar to the tinned product. Still, being lazy I have reverted to buying the tinned/toothpaste tubed variety. SB reckones that, with a layer of oil to cover, a jar should keep for "a couple of months"!

  2. Your harissa looks wonderful what a good way to use your great crop of chillies. Sarah x

  3. Great recipe Mark. I've already made chilli jam with a batch of cayenne, but I'll definitely be giving this one a go with my currently-ripening 'pot black' and 'prairie fire' fruits.


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