Over the last couple years, harissa paste has become my favourite flavour enhancer! I add it to almost everything. I found a great brand at my local grocery store, but sadly it looks like they no longer sell it.
I decided it was time to make my own. It’s actually incredibly easy and by making it yourself, you can control the heat. I don’t like things too spicy, so I’ve only used three chiles, but you can add more or even some cayenne pepper to spice it up a bit.
This recipe does involve a little bit of pre-work: roasting the bell pepper (traditional harissa uses dried chiles, but I wanted to make sure I could always find the ingredients at my local store and didn’t want to have to run around town trying to get dried chiles every time I made a batch). Roasting the pepper is the next best thing!
The star of this sauce really is the smoked paprika; it makes such a difference. I first tried making this recipe using regular paprika, and while it was good, it was missing the distinct smokiness that makes harissa a flavour powerhouse.
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 avocado oil (you can use olive oil, but I wanted a light tasting oil so it didn’t change the flavour profile)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 3 red chiles, roughly chopped and seeds removed
- juice from half a lemon
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 roasted red bell pepper, roughly chopped and seeds removed
- 2 tsp coconut vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
For Roasting the Bell Pepper:
- Pre-heat oven to 425°
- Place the pepper in a cast iron pan (if you don’t have one, you can use a baking sheet lined with parchment paper)
- Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, tossing every so often so all sides get to char up
- Once nice and blacken, take the pepper out of the oven and place in a blow and cover with a lid or dishtowel for about 10 minutes to allow the pepper to steam. The skin will loosen
- Remove and discard the skin (be careful! The pepper will still be super hot and will be filled with hot water on the inside)
- Slice up the bell pepper, removing the seeds and stem
For the Harissa Paste:
- Add all the ingredients except the avocado oil to your food processor and blitz it up until everything is combined
- Slowly add in the avocado oil while continuing to blend (you can use more or less than 1/4 cup, depending on the consistency you want)
- Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge