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Harissa

One of Pete’s plans for 2010 is to establish a permaculture garden in our small suburban backyard.  My mum donated one of her chilli plants to start us off  and, even though it’s still in a pot, this small shrub has fruited abundantly – here’s just a small portion of our harvest!

I turned the chillies into harissa sauce, using a recipe I put together years ago. It’s adapted from a recipe in Dave Dewitt’s A World of Curries, and is very simple to make, providing you have a food processor (I use a mini one). The quantities are pretty loose – use whatever you have on hand in amounts that suit your personal preferences.

  • 7 large red chillies, medium heat
  • 4 red bullet chillies, hot
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground paprika (I sometimes use smoked paprika)
  • ½ teaspoon Malden salt flakes
  • 30 or more fresh mint leaves
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 cloves of peeled garlic
  • water

1. Wash and deseed the chillies.  I usually wear gloves to do this, because I’m a wuss. For this batch, I used a dozen of our red chillies, as I didn’t have any long red ones.

2. Place the chillies, garlic and all the spices in the bowl of a small food processor or blender.  Add the mint leaves and pulse to combine, then add the olive oil and enough water to create a thick sauce.

3.  Scrape the harissa into a clean sterilised jar and cover it with a thin film of olive oil.  Best to use the sauce within a couple of weeks, as it doesn’t have any vinegar or lots of salt to preserve it.

As I mentioned before, this is a very adaptable recipe, and I tend to use whatever chillies I have on hand, and then pack the little food processor with as many mint leaves as I can jam in.  I also prefer to use spearmint rather than peppermint, if given a choice.   Allow a couple of days for the flavours to meld together, then serve on everything from carrot sticks to roast chicken!

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