Harissa | Tunisian Chili Sauce

Next we move on to Tunisia to make their famous Harissa, the hot Chili sauce. While there are so many ways one makes the Harissa, the common methods being roasting the peppers and then making a paste. The chilies used serrano peppers along with other varieties. I have read about jalapenos being used as well.

Then I came upon this recipe which just used dried red chilies and the recipe was quite easy to make at home. I only made a small cup as the week I was making this sauce, I was mostly making condiments and there was already too many dips and sauces prepared.

It was interesting to note all the spices being used and that made me feel this will be a good sauce for dipping as well. We made Rajma Kabab and I felt this sauce will be spicy enough. It was really fiery hot and I mixed up some ketchup to tone down the spice. Though you can skip the ketchup if you want to stick to the authentic version.

Harissa | Tunisian Chili sauce

Ingredients Needed:

Makes about 1/2 cup of sauce

Dried Red chillies - 20 
Cumin seeds - 1 tbsp
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Fennel seeds - 3/4 tsp
Caraway seeds - 1/2 tsp
Garlic - 5 -6 cloves
Salt - 1/4 tsp
White Vinegar - 1 tsp
Olive oil - 2 tbsp

How to make the Harissa

Remove stack and place the dry chilies in hot water and soak for an hour.

Dry roast the spices over high heat. Toast for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, till fragrant. 

Remove the spices from the pan immediately to prevent burning, placing in a mortar and pestle. Roughly grind the spices with the pestle.

Drain the chillies, reserving a few tablespoons of the chilli water.

Now blend the garlic using chili water, then add the chili paste along with the spice powder, vinegar. Blend till very smooth. Add olive oil to get the smooth texture. 

Serve as a sauce or you can use it in any savory dish.


Though this is serve as such, I felt it was spicy, so mixed it with a little tomato ketchup and served. I know this may not be the authentic way of serving.

If you can bear the hot spice, use as such.

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