Thursday, October 29, 2015

Homemade Harissa

Harissa is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to cook with. I recently got to thinking about how I could probably quite easily start making my own Harissa rather than buying it and now I'm a major fan of going homemade. I researched lots of recipes and it seems there are a fair few ways of doing it, but this is my way… It's a little messy and a bit time consuming, but not at all difficult.

I won't in any way, shape or form insist that you start making your Harissa from scratch - in fact, I'll be the first person to tell you that there's really no need. However, if you're the type of person who likes to know exactly what's in their food, appreciates a fresher taste and likes a bit of experimentation with flavors, then I'd say you won't be sorry knowing that you can customize your Harissa to your own preferences with more or less heat, more or less garlic, different types of chillies and peppers, etc.

Harissa is a North African chili pepper paste and it seems from my research that it's usually made with a mortar & pestle. I've decided to make mine in a blender, which means it's a heck of a lot easier to make. Harissa is particularly delicious rubbed on chicken before it roasts or added into soups, particularly stews with chickpeas in them. For any of you who spend your Sundays doing food prep of the week, it's quite easy to just slide this into your regular schedule during the weekend and then you have it to use throughout the week however you'd like.

This particular harissa recipe turns out quite light in color compared to others, but don't let that deter you. If you want a deeper red color, use more chili peppers, add in roasted red peppers or use less garlic. That said, I encourage you to focus on flavor rather than color here.

250ml regular olive oil
8-10 small to medium chili peppers
10 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Handful of fresh coriander leaves
Pinch of sea salt flakes

1. Pierce the chillies in multiple places with a small, sharp knife and fry them in the olive oil over medium or medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until the skin starts to wrinkle and blister a bit. When the chillies look well cooked and almost burnt, remove them from the pan to a small bowl leaving the oil behind in the pan. Set the oil aside - you will need it later. Cover the small bowl of chillies with cling film and set aside until completely cooled.

2. When the chillies are completely cooled, peel off the skins and slit them to remove the seeds, leaving only the red peppery flesh. Add the chili flesh along with the rest of the ingredients and about 6 tablespoons of the oil from the the frying pan to a small blender. Alternatively you can use a bowl and a stick blender which might actually be easier.

3. Blitz the ingredients until a mushy, orange or red paste. You may need to add more of the olive oil or some water 1 tablespoon at a time to help this along. Refrigerate in an airtight container or use immediately.

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