Spicy Harissa: #SundaySupper

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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



Please join on us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper on November 11.  In the evening we will meet at 7pm EST for our weekly #SundaySupper live chat.

All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag or you can follow us through TweetChat.

We’d also love to feature your own posts for Gifts From the Kitchen on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board to share them with all of our followers, too.


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  1. says

    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!

  2. says

    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

  3. says

    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!!!

  4. says

    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!

  5. says

    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

  6. says

    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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