I think I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite family traditions is our Christmas dinner. Every year, someone chooses a country or region, and everyone bring a typical dish from that area. This cultural cuisine tradition always leads to some really unexpected – and delicious – results. With fond memories of our Moroccan Christmas, I decided to re-make a few dishes that I really loved. Harissa is a condiment of Tunisian origin, and it is full of strong flavors from chili peppers, garlic, and fresh ground spices.
I looked at some recipes that started out with fresh chili peppers, but I was concerned about those being too spicy, so the recipe I used includes dried chili peppers. I used one hot pepper variety and one milder variety, and that ended up being perfect, spice-wise.The peppers are de-stemmed and de-seeded, then re-hydrated in hot water.
While those are hydrating, toast some coriander and cumin seeds – place seeds in a dry pan over medium heat, and give them a toss every so often until they start turning brown. Keep an eye on them, or they’ll burn.
Finally, add some lemon juice and olive oil until the harissa reaches a desired consistency. Now what to do with it? Here are some ideas from thekitchn: “This flavor-packed paste can be used to enhance soups, stews, appetizers and main dishes. Use it has a marinade for meat and fish. Blend it into hummus, or any of your favorite dips. Use it as a spread to liven up your pizza. I love adding a spoonful to a bowl of olive oil…it’s bread dipping heaven.”
Next week I’ll show you how I used the harissa to make a Moroccan appetizer!