Bastardised harissa paste


Elevating middle class self-parody to new heights, I now make my own harissa paste. The good news is it’s yummy. 

For the love of god, wear gloves to do this. I first made this when 8 months pregnant and spent 3 hours with burning hands. You don’t want to transfer the fire of a thousand suns on to your infant’s skin.*

This recipe is adapted from an Ottolenghi one. If you want something semi-authentic, then head on over to the original. This take is delicious but adapted to what was in the cupboards. I refuse to spend £4 on preserved lemons. 

The harissa paste tastes good with pretty much everything. In toasties; curries; stirred through pasta; or in this roasted aubergine and feta risotto. 

*if you do get chilli on your hands, rub them all over with olive oil, leave them ten minutes and then wash it off. The fat seems to lift away the chilli residue 

Stirred through pasta. Two lunches this week: left with sweet corn, tomatoes and mozzarella; right with green beans, peas and cheddar

TIME 30 minutes

MAKES one jam jar’s worth
Store in the fridge in a clean jar and it should last a couple of weeks. The Patriarch usually polishes it off within a fortnight so I can’t speak for after that…

6-8 large fresh red chillies – i.e. 2 supermarket packets 

4 large dried Mexican chillies – I used 2 ancho and 2 chipotle, I’ve also used pasilla before. You can get these in lots of supermarkets or order online for a very reasonable price

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chilli flakes

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

2 garlic cloves 

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 

4 tablespoons olive oil

Dash of lemon juice

Pinch of salt 


Soak your dried Mexican chillies in hot kettle water while your fresh chillies are roasting.

 Roast the fresh chillies for 15 minutes at 200 degrees until the skin is beginning to blister and lift away from the flesh. PUT ON THE GLOVES. Once cool remove the skin and discard.

Chop the garlic. Toast the cumin and caraway seeds and crush (use a pestle and mortar if you have one, otherwise put in some cling film and bash). Remove the seeds from the rehydrated chillies or they’ll be grim and hard in the harissa. Put everything in the food processor and blend until a paste forms, but leave some bits for texture. Voila.

Wash your food processor thoroughly and immediately. The plastic is porous and will take on the oil and chilli heat. Vinegar or lemon juice are good for cleaning food processors that have got manky. 

What? I want tummy time too.

7 thoughts on “Bastardised harissa paste

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