Harissa, this fiery chili sauce is now widely available commercially, but it’s quick and simple to make, and you’ll find it has more flavor than many on sale, which predominantly have a chili bite, but little more. It is used throughout North Africa, but it’s especially common in Tunisia. It is often made with dried chile peppers; the local chile pepper resembles the slender guajillo of Mexico. If you like to use fresh chile peppers for a table sauce, substitute the same quantity as dried and omit the soaking. Harissa is used in cooking and as a condiment with eggs, couscous, and tagines.
- 31⁄2oz (100g) dried hot chile peppers
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1⁄2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground caraway
- 1⁄2 tsp ground coriander
- olive oil
Directions: break the chile peppers into pieces and discard the seeds. Soak the flesh in almost-boiling water for about 30 minutes, till soft. Meanwhile crush the garlic with the salt. Drain the chile peppers and pound or process with the garlic and spices. Add 1–2 tbsp olive oil, or more, to loosen the mixture. Store in a jar under a layer of olive oil for 3–4 weeks. Harissa is often thinned with oil and lemon juice, water, or a couple of spoonfuls of hot stock from the dish with which it’s to be served.