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Information about Tunisian Harissa plus authentic Harissa Recipe

Featured Ingredient - Tunisia



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Harissa is of the most important and popular ingredients in Tunisian cuisine. It is a seasoned (hot) sauce made with chillies, flavourings such as cumin, caraway and coriander plus olive oil, which are mixed to make a thick paste. Not only is it added to many recipes, it is also traditionally used as a table condiment. It is an indispensable ingredient which helps differentiate Tunisian cooking from that of most of North Africa.

The name comes from the Arabic word for "to break into pieces," which is done by pounding the chillies in a mortar, although today a food processor can be used. The simplest form of Harisa is an uncomplicated paste of red chilli peppers and salt which is stored covered in olive oil.

Although Harissa is sold in tins, tubes or if you’re lucky, fresh in delicatessens, with today’s modern kitchen equipment it is just as easy to prepare it fresh yourself. Here’s a recipe for you to try.

Harissa     Veg  CD  ACC  Tunisian  10mins

Cold Vegetarian Vegan Accompaniment Condiment Gluten Wheat Dairy free Eggless Tunisia North Africa African

100g/4oz Hot Red Chillies, deseeded
4 Garlic Cloves
2 tbsp Water
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
˝ teasp Ground Caraway Seeds
˝ teasp ground Coriander Seeds
1 teasp Ground Cumin
1˝ teasp salt
Extra Olive Oil


1. Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

2. Transfer to a jar then pour enough extra olive oil to create a ‘sealing’ layer.

N.B. Whenever you use some of the paste from the jar, remember to top up again with olive oil making sure no paste is exposed to air. This helps preserve the paste for longer.

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