Harissa ‘on file’

‘I am making harissa!’ I said too loudly to my friend at the supermarket. She was looking puzzled at the quantity of chilli peppers and double cream in my basket. In London you can buy harissa from markets and specialist delis but in Lewes, as far as I know, you have to make do with the expensive, salty and vinegary jars from supermarket ‘cheffy’ ranges. Believe me, they aren’t worth the money, so when I spotted these chillies on reduction I thought I’d snaffle them and make a batch of proper stuff. The double cream was also cut price so I bought lots, but don’t worry, it doesn’t feature again here, I’m using it to make ice cream.


This recipe is adapted from the one in The Moro Cookbook. This paste is a touch less hot than traditional harissa and I find it works well as a condiment and marinade, though be warned, it still packs some heat. Where I live you can’t buy chillies by weight so I have adjusted the spicing for two standard 30g packs of fresh Thai chillies (or one of the packs photographed here) and increased the amount of sweet pepper. The recipe makes about 12 tbsp of sauce which I have put ‘on file’ in an ice-cube tray to freeze until needed.


60-70g fresh chillies
2 heaped tsp caraway seeds
2 heaped tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds
2 large cloves of garlic
1 red pepper
2 heaped tsp tomato puree
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1.5 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

De-seed and quarter the red pepper and roast at 190c for about 40 minutes. Leave to cool slightly and then pinch and peel off the skins.

De-seed the chillies, being careful not to handle them too much. I use a clean J-cloth to protect my hands because I don’t like rubber gloves.

Place all the ingredients in a food processor or (as I do) in a flat-bottomed jug, and use a hand blender. Blend into a smooth paste.

Portion the sauce into an ice-cube tray. I use my Annabel Karmel baby one, I never used this for baby food because I decided to forgo purée-making for baby-led weaning so at least now it is seeing some action.

Use your harissa as you please. It works well stirred into dips or couscous, it is a delicious marinade for meat and fish and would be great for the barbecue, if it wasn’t so damn cold out.



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About Chloe King

I'm a freelance writer, designer and webby type. I live with my husband and daughter in the south of England. I like to cook and can throw a good party.

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