Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Homemade Harissa or Spicy Moroccan Chilli Paste

Harissa is a fiery hot North African chilli and roasted pepper paste.  As we aspire to make North African Merguez (blog to follow on our attempts at sausage making) of which harissa is a key ingredient, we decided to make it.

This is probably about our third time at making it.  It is just so simple.  We have toned the chilli down from the original recipe I downloaded from the internet, but it still has a great kick to it.  As I say we make it to use in making merguez, but any leftovers get frozen in ice cube trays and can be used to enliven soups, stews, tomato sauce for use with white fish or lamb meatballs, as a marinade for meat or fish, or just stirred through yoghurt or mayonnaise to make a tasting dipping sauce.

3 small red peppers (my local sells bags of 3 romano pointed peppers for 99p so that is what I used)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp roasted cumin seeds
2 large garlic cloves
Large pinch of salt
A splash of red wine vinegar (optional)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp hot chilli flakes
4 tbsp olive oil

Roast the peppers carefully under the grill, turning them once.  You want them charred as shown.  Place them into a plastic bag to steam (this helps loosen the skin) whilst you put all the other ingredients into a mini food processor.

When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel and de-seed them.  Don't worry if the odd bit of skin or seeds escapes you.  Place the flesh into the food processor together with the other ingredients and whizz until as smooth as possible.

Spoon into a sterilised jar and cover the paste with a film of olive oil.  Keep in the fridge for up to 1 month.  If you have any left close to a month later you can always freeze it in handy portions in an ice cube tray.

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