Harissa Recipe. All Hot Condiments


Every Cuisine boasts a hot condiment. And Harissa, our Moroccan rock star condiment, is prominently displayed.

Just look at my Hot Sauce Happy Family! 

Harissa, Schug, Salsa, Chutney, Hot Pepper Jelly, Charif. When life gives you hot peppers, make hot sauce!

Harissa is the one we grew up with in Morocco, slathering it everywhere except maybe on toast at breakfast time. Children, no need to fight about who has the BEST Hot Sauce, as you see we can all play in the big hot sauce sandbox!

harissaHarissa, a fiery pepper relish that originated in North Africa, invariably elicits the same placid comment from my brother  Toby: “Mmm….Confiture!” For most of us, however, this condiment is no kin to jam: Use it sparingly, I don’t want a heartburn on my conscience! On the side, please: Some don’t like it hot! There’ll be more for those of us who do like it hot!

Real Garlic, Please!


Few condiments suffer from commercial processing as much as this one. I think I have an idea why this is so: the main culprit is garlic powder. In my book, garlic powder gets the grand prize for ruining a dish at the speed of sprinkling.

The second it lands on food, it is all over. So why use it at all? Fresh garlic is ubiquitous and costs pennies. Just take a garlic clove, cover it with the wide side of a knife, and smash it in one stroke of your hand (I find the base of the thumb the most effective): The garlic won’t feel the pain, and then the clove will slip right out of its skin. Okay, I agree, it will take you a few seconds than if you just sprinkle its vile granulated counterpart, but you will be rewarded with a far superior end product!

Hot Peppers

Although connoisseurs (including this one) will insist that authentic Harissa is made with water-reconstituted dried red hot peppers, I find that they are not always readily available. So, I devised this fabulous recipe with dried hot pepper flakes, with wonderful results. Since Gochugaru, the fiery Korean coarsely ground chili powder, has become widely available, it is now my favorite.

This condiment is the classical accompaniment to couscous, and is also delicious with fried fish and grilled chicken. Dilute it with a little water and lemon juice, and you get a superb marinade for beef, fish or chicken, even vegetables. (In a marinade form, it is called chermoula).



  • 1 bunch cilantro, stems and leaves
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • salt to taste (about 1 tablespoon is enough. Not too much salt please, as you will be eating it with salted foods)


Mix the gochugaru and the hot water in a bowl. Let the mixture rest while you proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Grind the cilantro and garlic in a food processor.
With the motor running, add the oil gradually. Add the paprika, cumin, lemon juice and salt, and process for a few more seconds.
Add this ground mixture to the gochugaru mixture in the bowl, and mix thoroughly with a spoon.

Transfer to widemouth glass jars, and keep refrigerated.

Makes about 4 cups.

Yield: Makes about 4 cups.

2 replies
    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      Tricia, simply be sure to always keep the top of the harissa covered with oil in the jar, in other words no exposed mixture, which would make it go bad. A few weeks if you always use a clean utensil, It will keep beautifully!

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