I’ve been in Kolkata this past week and while it isn’t safe to say that the monsoon has set in, it has been rainy and gloomy. I wanted to make a traditional Moroccan tagine (more about that in the next post) and the first step for that is a harissa paste. Harissa is a spicy paste or sauce made with chilis, garlic and spices. I’m not quite sure if it is available in the market (I think I might have seen some version of it at Fabindia). Either way I wanted to make my own homemade harissa – making sauces and pastes at home allows you to control the amount of salt, lack of sugar, additives, preservatives and quality of ingredients.
I’m not much of a spicy person. You’ll never find me picking up the spiciest hot sauce and in college I was always that person who wanted the mild curry at the local favorite Thai restaurant. The beauty of this homemade harissa paste is in the pairing of the chili balanced with the flavors of carom, coriander and cumin. I used a traditional Indian kashmiri dried red chili; you can use any dried red chili you have in your pantry. These chilis aren’t exceedingly spicy when deseeded. I use them for everything from salsas to khao suey pastes!
It’s amazing the flavors you can concoct with spices that you might think are so traditionally Indian. To be honest, I had never cooked with coriander seeds before and I didn’t even know what they looked like. While you wait for my tagine recipe, enjoy this homemade harissa paste with falafels, hummus or with a mediterranean veggie burger!
- 6 dried red chili peppers + 1 cup boiling water to soak
- 1½ tsp cumin seeds (whole jeera)
- 1½ tsp coriander seeds
- 1½ tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
- 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- Soak the chilis in the boiling water for 15 mins.
- De-seed and de-stem the chilis carefully, once they are rehydrated. Reserve the water.
- Grind the chilis, spices, garlic and salt. Add in the olive oil and 2-3 tsp of the water to bring to a finer consistency if need be.
- Store in an airtight container for upto a week.