Harissa is one of those condiments you wish you had discovered earlier in your life; once you have tasted it, and you are a fan of hot peppers, there is no going back.
Harissa originated in the Barbary states of North West Africa, but it is often used as a table condiment and food ingredient throughout the Mediterranean. I love to add it to rice dishes as well as on grilled meats and fish.
There are many regional variations of this wonderful spice paste. Here is my own version:
100g Ripe red chilli peppers
25g Chilli flakes
25g Himalayan salt
6 cloves of garlic
1 tsp toasted cumin seeds
1 tsp carroway seeds
100ml extra virgin olive oil
Chop the ripe red chillies and the garlic then add all ingredients except the olive oil to a large mortar, and pound with a pestle until the mixture becomes a smooth paste. Add the olive oil and stir to mix well.
Decant the harissa to a clean and sterilized jar and seal. The flavour improves after a few days and the harissa will keep for several months, but trust me it will not last that long!
You can get good results by adding all ingredients to a food processor and blitzing it to a smooth paste, but I prefer the traditional method because it seems to bring the spice flavours out much better.