Although harissa is an important condiment that is served throughout North Africa, it is Tunisian cuisine that is inextricably linked with this powerful sauce. In Tunisia it will be used in many couscous dishes and soups, as well as being placed on the table so the diner can add extra to their taste. As a snack, flatbread is served with harissa to dip. You would really have to love hot stuff to do that.

I will give you a couple of recipes, the first is more traditional, but be warned it is very hot. The second is my adaptation for those with a tamer palate.

Harissa 1


Drain the chillies and roughly chop. Place all the ingredients bar the salt, pepper and oil into a mortar and grind to a smooth paste with a pestle. Add the oil in a thin stream and continue to grind away. Taste for salt and pepper and blow you mind! You can use a food processor instead.

Harissa 2

  • 5 Large dried red chillies, de-seeded and soaked
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds, roasted and ground
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds, roasted and ground
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds, roasted and ground
  • ¼ preserved lemon, chopped or juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 roma tomatoes, oven roasted for 20 minutes
  • 2 Tbs. flaked almonds
  • 1 Red capsicum, roasted peeled and de-seeded
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil

See harissa 1