This hot, aromatic paste made from chilli and assorted spices and herbs is spicy and fragrant. It's widely used in North African and Middle Eastern cuisines as a condiment, or mixed with water or tomato juice to flavour stews, soups or couscous. In North Africa it's also sometimes served in a pool of olive oil, for dipping. As it's strong and pungent, a little goes a long way.
Choose the best
You can find it ready-made in jars and cans, and sometimes as a paste, in a tube. It's also available as a powder, to which you add oil and garlic.
Shop-bought varieties are ready to use straight away, unless they're the powdered type (see above). It's also possible to make your own with a food processor; a basic recipe includes dried red chilles, garlic, salt, fresh coriander, caraway seeds and olive oil, but you can also add smoked paprika, cumin and mint. If possible, leave to stand for around 12 hours before using, to allow the flavours to develop.
Try making homemade harissa.
Keep it in a cool, dry place. Once opened, it should be stored in the fridge and will last for up to 6 weeks.
Add to a marinade or use as a rub; add to soups, pasta sauces or couscous; mix a teaspoon into some olive oil and use to dress roasted root vegetables.
Use as a marinade for fish in Diana Henry's grilled harissa sardines with fennel and potato salad. Stir through harissa couscous in a quick and easy side dish, flavour aubergine kebabs for a vegetarian BBQ main, or use in a 5 ingredient harissa chicken traybake for a speedy midweek meal. Harissa and honey pair perfectly in a spicy sweet dressing for a halloumi and broccoli tabbouleh.
Try chilli paste.