It's the little things that can sometimes make a big difference. Harissa is one of my favorite "little" condiments that features on our table, especially during grill season. Until now, I have only referred to it as a link in other recipes, but it's high time that Harissa gets its own post.
Harissa is a Middle Eastern condiment that is a blend of roasted peppers, chiles, garlic and ground spices. Savory, sweet, and hot, it adds a fresh and fiery component to grilled meat, fish, and chicken. Mix it in with rice dishes and tabbouleh, soups and dips, or simply eat it with a spoon. It elevates anything it garnishes and is guaranteed to fire up your tastebuds.
Makes about 2 cups
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded, coarsely chopped
2-3 small red serrano chiles, stemmed, minced with seeds
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh coriander and/or mint leaves
Toast cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and caraway seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until aromatic, about one minute. Transfer to a mortar with pestle. Grind seeds to a fine powder.
Combine ground seeds, red peppers, chiles, garlic and olive oil in bowl of food processor. Process until smooth, adding more olive oil, if necessary, to desired consistency. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.
Let sit at least one hour and up to 24 hours before serving. (Refrigerate before use.)
Serve garnished with coriander or mint leaves.
Tip: Adjust the heat to your taste by omitting or adding the seeds and membrane of the chiles. Remember that there should be some heat to Harissa.