09 June 2007

Harissa tale

So. I made the harissa (which is a hot Tunisian chilli sauce, and is the traditional accompaniment for couscous). It took me about an hour. I used the recipe in Stephanie Alexander's Cook's Companion.

First I chopped up and de-seeded 250g of chillis. From looking more closely at the chillis, I think they're Jamaican hots rather than Scotch bonnets (they have a flattened ring around the middle) - but they're both bloody hot, near the top of the scale! Even picking up an uncut chilli was enough to make my fingers burn.

The question that has to be asked is - why on earth is my mother growing buckets of these things?!!

Now all the other ingredients have been added - a head of garlic, fresh coriander, mint, ground coriander seed, crushed caraway seeds, and salt. They're probably all wasted, cos I can't imagine that anyone will be able to taste them, ever.

Then I added olive oil, and beat the crap out of it in the food processor until it 'turned into a paste'. Even after about 5 minutes of blending there were still chunks of chilli... I think I put in too much oil, so it's a bit runny (as the man in cheese shop said ;). It's also too lumpy. I think I need to put it through the blender.

Anyway. This is how it looks now. Filled a jar nicely. I'm too scared to taste it!

I wish I'd read Kate's comment first, as I think we'd have got more use from the Jamaican sauce she found. I don't know if we'll ever actually use the harissa... but it was an experience making it!

As for the wristwarmers, the second one is nearly done. I started a new ball of Arymtage for the second one, and luckily it was pretty close to the same colour pattern as the first - only a difference of a few rows in the shading. Photos soon!


  1. It looks lovely and warm on this particularly blustery day. Maybe just hold your hands over it rather than risk the taste buds ;).

  2. Plain yougurt is the best antidote to hot peppers. The Harrissa looks splendid. I bet you could use a twist of cotton for a wick and use it for a molotov cocktail.

  3. i made that recipe once Jejune. It's the one I was going to suggest you make. I ended up just using it wherever I needed chilli in a dish. I found a zillion uses for it. It looks gorgeous, doesn't it!

  4. You made me sing "Harissa story of a man named Brady!!!!" Excellent photos and it looks beautiful. Yoghurt is the way to go for toning it down, I agree. make a raita with oghurt and cucmber or whatever and then you have an instant antidote!!!

  5. Holy tingly tastebuds Batman! Look at the seeds in those babies! Thank goodness you deseeded them.

    The final product looks fantastic though, and like Bells, I've used harissa in place of just chilli if I dont have fresh ones, esp in north african / SE asian type cooking. Yummo.

  6. yikes! Reminds me of the time I confused wasabi for guacamole...no, no, it's okay... my nosehairs grew back...

  7. I wouldn't be worried. If your mother is growing these things by the bucket, I'm sure you'll be gifted with sufficient to make the jerk! Let us know how the harissa works. That's cool that bells has made it before - there's always room for chilli pastes and sauces in the pantry. Perhaps you'll be able to make up small jars and gift the harissa for Chrissy prezzies?

  8. the harissa looks delicious! i have recently converted to a spicy food lover. i seem to put a few dried flakes into everything i make these days. arm num num!

  9. Cindy taking a break from a ton of work6:10 am, June 12, 2007

    Cilli tonight. Hot tamale.

    - An old South of the Border saying

  10. Cindy in the US6:12 am, June 12, 2007

    Chilli I meant - hard to type with dog sleeping in crock of left arm. But you got the gist......


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