Harissa is a spicy, North African condiment made from chiles, served with couscous, potatoes, soups and stews.


Harissa : The Wimpy Vegetarian

This week at #SundaySupper, we’re sharing our Gifts From the Kitchen with you. If you’re wondering what gift to bring to a holiday dinner, or to a holiday gift exchange with friends and family, nothing is more personal and savored than something from your kitchen. This week I’m bringing harissa.

Even the name sounds exotic, like a belly dancer sheathed in diaphanous veils dancing for a caliph in ancient times.

But no. While it does hail from Tunisia, where there may be belly dancers, harissa is actually an exotic little condiment found on almost any table in the Northern African countries of Morocco, Algeria Libya and Tunisia; arguably as common as ketchup and mustard are in America. And she’s not shy, but dances boldly alongside couscous with chili pepper spiciness.

From the time North African women are young girls, they learn their family’s recipe for harissa, which commonly includes combinations of cumin, garlic, coriander, caraway, lemon juice or vinegar, and olive oil with the chili peppers, and occasionally dried mint. Over generations, families, towns, and regions tweaked this condiment to put their own stamp on it for soups, stews, curries, and meats.

My version is a little less spicy since I use mostly mild ancho (or pasilla) dried peppers and roasted tomatoes and carrots. I add a few chiles d’arbol for heat, and dried chipotle pepper for smoke, but you can eliminate either or both of these and substitute a couple additional dried ancho chilies if you prefer. All of the dried chilies I used were readily available in most of my local stores, but I did include one ingredient that may not be as common: dried tomatoes. I don’t mean sun-dried, packed in oil. The dried tomatoes I used are from Enduring Sun and are dried little cherry tomato disks that have a hint of paprika in their flavor. I love to grind them up and throw them on casseroles, in soups, or vegetable tarts. If you don’t have any, you can omit this ingredient without making any other adjustments, but you might want to consider getting some. They make a wonderful addition to any pantry, as does this harissa.

I use harissa in everything from soups and stews to pasta and vegetable casseroles. It’s also great with meats – especially lamb. In fact I would wager that if you make this, you’ll be surprised at how fast it disappears!


Homemade Harissa

     by Susan Pridmore

     Makes 1 1/2 cups

       Prep Time: 10 minutes

       Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes


  • 1 lb 5 ounces medium-sized tomatoes (13 medium)
  • 2 large carrots
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 10 dried ancho chiles
  • 3 chiles de arbol
  • 1 dried chipotle chile
  • 1 tablespoon dried tomatoes (see notes!)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons sherry wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water


  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the tomatoes in half and place them on the baking sheet, cut side facing up. Drizzle a little olive oil over them, and sprinkle with salt. Roast for 2 hours or until the top surface of the tomatoes is puckered and somewhat dry. Remove and set aside.
  2. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Slice off the tops of the carrots, and quarter them lengthwise. Toss in a little olive oil, lightly sprinkle with salt, and lay on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 15 minutes. Turn the carrots over and roast for another 15 minutes. The carrots should be slightly caramelized. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. Bring one quart of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Remove from the heat, and add all of the dried chiles to the hot water. Place the lid on the pot and let the chiles soak for one hour, or until soft. Remove from the water, tear off the tops and remove the seeds. Set aside.
  4. Combine the dried tomatoes (if using), coriander seed, caraway seed and kosher salt in a spice grinder, coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle and grind to a coarse powder.
  5. Combine the roasted tomatoes, carrots, softened chiles, and ground spices in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade and whirl like crazy until a thick paste develops. Add the vinegar, olive oil and water and whirl again until completely incorporated.
  6. Store in an airtight jar covered with a little olive oil in the refrigerator up to a month.
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Now check out all these other ideas for Gifts From the Kitchen!

Breads / Breakfast

Condiments / Ingredients

Soup and Snacks



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49 Responses to “Spicy Harissa: #SundaySupper” Subscribe

  1. Conni Smith November 10, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

    Mmmm….I have never had this…but I do believe I must try it!
    Conni Smith recently posted..Roasted Spiced Nuts – a Perfect Holiday Gift | #SundaySupperMy Profile

  2. Jayne November 11, 2012 at 2:57 am #

    How clever! Ive never even though to make my own harissa!Great idea! Love the idea of home made gifts, I’m enjoying seeing what everyone made!

  3. Laura Hunter November 11, 2012 at 3:30 am #

    Oh thank you for sharing this. I love harissa paste and always make sure I have a jar of it in the fridge but I much prefer the idea of making it myself.
    Laura Hunter recently posted..Nutella Truffles #SundaySupperMy Profile

  4. Renee November 11, 2012 at 4:23 am #

    I’m seriously thinking about making this as a gift to myself. It sounds so wonderful and just the type of condiment I love.
    Renee recently posted..Rocky Road Candy for Gifts from the Kitchen #SundaySupperMy Profile

  5. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen November 11, 2012 at 4:57 am #

    This is such a great condiment and not hard to make at home. I love your recipe, it´s different from others I´ve seen and I think the roasted veggies should add a great layer of flavor! Wonderful gift . Thanks for hosting Susan!
    Paula @ Vintage Kitchen recently posted..Apricot Pineapple Rum Sauce #SundaySupperMy Profile

  6. apuginthekitchen November 11, 2012 at 5:06 am #

    I love harissa, but it is usually a bit on the spicy side for me I love this recipe. What a lovely gift this would make. It’s wonderful in just about anything.
    apuginthekitchen recently posted..Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup for Comfort Food Thursday #FBS4SandyMy Profile

  7. Arlene @FlourOnMyFace November 11, 2012 at 5:21 am #

    Very interesting. I love spicy. I may have to try this recipe out.
    Arlene @FlourOnMyFace recently posted..Gifts From the Kitchen Homemade Vanilla Extract #SundaySupperMy Profile

  8. Cindys Recipes November 11, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    I can’t do spicy, but it sounds like it would work with out it!
    Cindys Recipes recently posted..Herb Vinegars #SundaySupperMy Profile

  9. Jen @JuanitasCocina November 11, 2012 at 6:16 am #

    Mmmmm, I love harissa! I can’t wait to make it at home! Thank you for hosting such a wonderful #SS!
    Jen @JuanitasCocina recently posted..Hot Chocolate on a Stick ~ Gifts From the Kitchen #SundaySupper!My Profile

  10. Tara November 11, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    Now that is cool, never heard of that and I know I would love it. That is a great gift!!
    Tara recently posted..Holiday Tree Cake for Gifts From The Kitchen at #SundaySupperMy Profile

  11. Susan November 11, 2012 at 6:32 am #

    This is so lovely and I really like that it is less spicy! I love the color too, really pops! Thanks for hosting this week Susan!
    Susan recently posted..Maple Nut Granola #SundaySupperMy Profile

  12. Nicole @ The Daily Dish November 11, 2012 at 6:35 am #

    I have never even heard of this before but the recipe sounds amazing. My goodness. I can think of all kinds of ways to use this!
    Great recipe and gift idea!
    Nicole @ The Daily Dish recently posted..Gifts in a Jar – Gingerbread Spice Mocha Coffee Mix #SundaySupperMy Profile

  13. Family Foodie November 11, 2012 at 6:46 am #

    All I can say is…. YOU ROCK what an amazing #SundaySupper event you have put together! Thank you for all your hard work and this truly is one of my absolute favorites!
    Family Foodie recently posted..Pumpkin Butter | Doce de Abobora #SundaySupperMy Profile

  14. Katie November 11, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe – I have never tried harissa…and now I really want to!
    Katie recently posted..Chocolate toffee crack for #SundaySupperMy Profile

  15. Faye Leong November 11, 2012 at 7:18 am #

    Thank you for sharing the background of Harrisa, indeed interesting and thanks so much for hosting this event with such a wonderful theme!
    Faye Leong recently posted..Homemade Chocolates – Holiday Gifts from the Kitchen #SundaySupperMy Profile

  16. veronica gantley November 11, 2012 at 7:22 am #

    I never thought about making my own harissa. I have always purchased it. Now I can.
    veronica gantley recently posted..Apple Pie Moonshine for #SundaySupperMy Profile

  17. Karen Hartzell (@InTheKitchenKP) November 11, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    I found a recipe for grilling veggies on the grill with harissa. Now thanks to you, I can make my own! I think my husband will love it!
    Karen Hartzell (@InTheKitchenKP) recently posted..Homemade Peppermint Mocha Mix #SundaySupper #HolidayGiftMy Profile

  18. Heather @girlichef November 11, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    Harissa is one of those things that has been on my to-make list forever! I love your version…as anchos are my favorite chile! I’m definitely saving your recipe to try soon. Thanks so much for hosting this week and for choosing such a fabulous and fitting theme :)
    Heather @girlichef recently posted..All-in-One Beer Bread Kit {#SundaySupper} + Apple Cheddar Beer BreadMy Profile

  19. Audrey's Mamma November 11, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    I had to stop reading the directions at ‘roast tomatoes for two hours!’ That sounds amazing! I have never heard of this but am dying to try it now. The roasted tomatoes sound amazing with all of the other ingredients. Our family does not eat much of anything with spice so I am not sure how much heat I will add.
    Audrey’s Mamma recently posted..Gluten-free Fruit and Nut Cookies #SundaySupperMy Profile

  20. Bea November 11, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    I love the color and presentation of your gift. Harissa is so delicious. Thank you for sharing and for a fantastic event :)
    Bea recently posted..#Dairyfree #Vegan Caramels for #SundaySupperMy Profile

  21. Tora Estep November 11, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    I’ve always wanted to make harissa. Thanks for sharing this variation. I love the addition of the smoked chiles.
    Tora Estep recently posted..Pancake mix with apple cider syrup and candied walnuts: A gift from the kitchen for #SundaySupperMy Profile

  22. Dorothy at ShockinglyDelicious November 11, 2012 at 8:37 am #

    Thank you for hosting such a perfect theme! Your harissa looks wonderful!
    Dorothy at ShockinglyDelicious recently posted..Pumpkin Cake Rolls for #SundaySupperMy Profile

  23. Pam @ The Meltaways November 11, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    I first heard of harissa when I watched the Next Food Network Star and Jeffrey Saad was totally obsessed with it. I found a store that was going to stop selling it and I bought like 6 jars of it for less than a dollar each! I LOVED it and haven’t found any since – now I can quit looking and make my own! Thanks for hosting a great week!
    Pam @ The Meltaways recently posted..Cranberry Strawberry Jam for a Gifts From The Kitchen #SundaySupperMy Profile

  24. Megan @ I Run For Wine November 11, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    I love that you made homemade Harissa! And love even more that your version is less spicy. Thank you for hosting an amazing Sunday Supper.
    Megan @ I Run For Wine recently posted..Nutella Powder #SundaySupper Gifts from the KitchenMy Profile

  25. Brianne @ Cupcakes & Kale Chips November 11, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Wow, this sounds delicious and so versatile. I have heard of harissa, but didn’t know exactly what was in it. Thanks for hosting such a great event!
    Brianne @ Cupcakes & Kale Chips recently posted..Pumpkin Maple Spice Granola Bars – #SundaySupper Gifts from the Kitchen (#gluten free #vegan)My Profile

  26. Soni November 11, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    I’ve never tried Harissa, but it sounds like something I would really enjoy :) Love the addition of the chilies and the lovely red color!!Thanks for organizing an amazing event Susan :)
    Soni recently posted..Sweet and Spicy Curried Nuts- Gifts for the Holidays #SundaySupperMy Profile

  27. Jennie @themessybakerblog November 11, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    I have never had harissa, and I think that has to change. This sounds so flavorful. I love it. Pinned!
    Jennie @themessybakerblog recently posted..Turtle Pretzels~ #SundaySupper Gifts from the KitchenMy Profile

  28. Choc Chip Uru November 11, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    What a delicious paste to try perfect on anything really :)

    Choc Chip Uru
    Choc Chip Uru recently posted..Happy Birthday CG 2012!My Profile

  29. Liz November 11, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    Your harissa recipe sounds perfect! And I love the way you’ve presented it for gifts!! Thanks so much for being our hostess this week!!!

  30. sunithi November 11, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    OOh this is lovely ! My kind of condiment !! Can imagine it with some pork or grilled salmon. Pinning & Making it ! Thanks for hosting. Such great ideas. Wanna try them all :) !
    sunithi recently posted..Spiced Cranberry Chutney With Apricot & Almonds #SundaySupperMy Profile

  31. Sarah Reid, RHNC (@jo_jo_ba) November 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    I love harissa, we still can’t get some of the chillies here but the flavour is spectacular
    Sarah Reid, RHNC (@jo_jo_ba) recently posted..Monster Cookie Mix in a Jar for a Gift Giving #SundaySupperMy Profile

  32. Brandie (@ Home Cooking Memories) November 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    I’ve never had harissa, but reading the ingredients, I think this is something my husband would really enjoy. I really like the shot you capture of it.
    Brandie (@ Home Cooking Memories) recently posted..Orange Spiced Roasted Chickpeas #SundaySupperMy Profile

  33. Carla November 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    I’ve heard of harissa but never actually knew what it was. Thanks for the information! Now I’m going to have to try (or you can just, you know, gift it to me 😉 )
    Carla recently posted..Cookie Cutter Fudge for #SundaySupper Gifts From The KitchenMy Profile

  34. Lyn @LovelyPantry November 11, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    When I saw this post last night, I pinned it immediately. Harissa! The name alone has so much charm and personality to it. Loving the ingredients!!! Thank you for introducing us to Harissa! :-)
    Lyn @LovelyPantry recently posted..Banana Coconut Coffee Cake with Macadamia Nut Streusel for #SundaySupperMy Profile

  35. Kim Bee November 11, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

    This is pure genius. I completely love this. I never thought to make my own. The colour is fabulous.
    Kim Bee recently posted..Cherry Extract #SundaySupperMy Profile

  36. Cass @foodmyfriend November 11, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

    This looks awesome. I have always thought that harissa was great through pasta. Such a great gift from the home :) well done.
    Cass @foodmyfriend recently posted..Liebster Blog AwardMy Profile

  37. mjskit November 11, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    What a beautiful Harissa! Gorgeous color and great list of ingredients!
    mjskit recently posted..Pinon BiscottiMy Profile

  38. Wendy November 12, 2012 at 7:10 am #

    Wow…this looks so good! I am always amazed how similar cuisines can be around the world…I cook with many of these ingredients when I make Mexican food. Interesting to see the same spices used in Moroccan food!

  39. Sarah November 12, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    This is like how all Korean’s girls at a young age sit in the kitchen with their mothers and grandmothers to make kimchee. Every family has their own recipe. I don’t think I have ever had harissa but I sure would love to try it now.
    Sarah recently posted..Butter and Blackberry Jam thumbprint cookies #SundaySupperMy Profile

  40. Amanda Mouttaki November 12, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    Great recipe!

  41. foodwanderings November 12, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    Gorgeous Harissa. You won’t believe it but I salivate over this more than any dessert! :) I might take your recipe and make a jar of my own. Great gifting idea!
    foodwanderings recently posted..#WeCare Sandy OutreachMy Profile

  42. Norma Chang November 12, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    Love how vibrant the color is. Great gift idea.

  43. Hannah November 12, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    I love this series and can’t wait to check out all of the homemade gift ideas so far. I’ve always wanted to make harissa since it is such a delicious condiment. What a marvelous gift! I am a big spice fan, so I may increase the spicy chiles. Thanks for sharing your recipe!
    Hannah recently posted..Cranberry Quince SauceMy Profile

  44. tanjascookingcorner November 13, 2012 at 7:51 am #

    A wonderful gift idea! Your harissa recipe sounds fantastic, I wlill have to try it, that is for sure :)
    tanjascookingcorner recently posted..Pumpkin Apple Cinnamon Jam & Printable Jam Labels/ džem od bundeve, jabuke i cimeta & naljepnice za džemMy Profile

  45. The Squishy Monster November 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    I feel silly that I just recently discovered the beauty of harissa—BEAUTIFUL! and what a festively colored gift, too!
    The Squishy Monster recently posted..Riding through AutumnMy Profile

  46. Karen @ My Pantry Shelf November 13, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    What a beautiful color this is! I love harissa. One of my favorite soups to make is a North African dish with chickpeas, lentils, and of course the rich flavor of harissa. What a fun gift idea!
    Karen @ My Pantry Shelf recently posted..Stuffed Winter Squash with Rice and SausageMy Profile

  47. Yosef - This American Bite November 14, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    I love harissa but have never made it myself. I must try this. Thank you for sharing.
    Yosef – This American Bite recently posted..Coconut Roasted Butternut SquashMy Profile

  48. danielle November 18, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    I cant wait to try this! I wanted to let you know that I featured this yesterday in my “What I Bookmarked This Week” post – stop by and see.

  49. Cynthia @ Chic Eats March 3, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    I came over to this recipe from your roasted tomato and harissa grilled cheese. Both dishes sound fantastic! I find myself putting roasted vegetables in just about everything since they add such a nice layer of richness. Definitely going to give both the grilled cheese and harissa a try!

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