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Member since January 2009


What you need: 

1 red bell pepper
1 tomato
4 to 8 dried new mexico chilies
5 to 10 dried arbol chilies
6 cloves fresh garlic
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
2 tablespoon olive oil, plus additional for storage Optional, totally not authentic, but so tasty I add it every time:
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds

What you do: 

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Set a pot of water on to boil.
2) Place sliced red bell pepper, skin up, on a greased cookie sheet. Do the same for your sliced tomato, but those go skin down. Since the oven is already on, I usually roast up a batch of red bell peppers and tomatoes rather than just the one of each required by this recipe. I usually just fill a cookie sheet and put it in the oven.
3) Place your dried peppers in a bowl. Pour enough boiling water over your dried peppers to just cover them. Cover the bowl and wait for the peppers to rehydrate.
4) While you wait, it's a good time to prep your other ingredients, which entails peeling your garlic and ginger (if you decide to go the deliciously inauthentic route like I do) and tossing all the remaining ingredients in a blender. As soon as the tomatoes are looking a little bit sun-dried and the peppers are charred, you're done with the oven. Turn that sucker off. Most people recommend peeling the blackened skin off of your red bell peppers, but I happen to enjoy the charred, earthy flavor it adds to the end product, so I leave em on. Add the pepper and tomato into the blender.
5) Depending on how hot you want your sauce, de-seed the dried peppers. WEAR GLOVES FOR THIS. I pull the top off and run water into the pepper, and most of the seeds get washed out really quickly. The arbol chilies are a pain to de-seed, but also have the spiciest seeds, so experiment and figure out what you like. Removing all the seeds leaves lots of flavor and very mild heat. once the dried peppers are de-stemmed and de-seeded, add them to the blender.
6) BLEND!! Sometimes I have to add a little of the pepper soaking water to get everything to blend, but ideally it should be a nice thick paste. Mine ends up a little chunky but I can live with. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Get a little light-headed at how delicious this African condiment is. Dream up a million things to put it on.
Harissa stores well. Simply cover with a layer of olive oil, making sure to replenish whenever the harissa shows through the oil.
Source of recipe: loosely based on guidelines from:,1,5865067.story

Preparation Time: 
about an hour
Cooking Time: 
Recipe Category: 


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