~Harissa – A Fiery North African Chile Sauce {featured on saveur.com}

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by Sara on September 4, 2010

Harissa, a staple in North African cuisine, is a fiery yet delicious chile sauce popular throughout Morocco, Algeria & Tunisia. It can be served as a condiment or a dip for a warm crusty bread. Harissa is perfect for Tagines & Couscous to give the dish it’s prominent pungent chile taste. Please Click Here to see my —>Chicken Tagine with Olives & Presreved Lemons Recipe.

The Chiles that Harissa is made from were not indigenous to North Africa. The Spanish conquistadors introduced them to the Old World in the early 1500s upon there return from the Americas. In Tunisia, where the Harissa originated, the sauce is mixed liberally with almost every dish. On the other hand Moroccans like to serve Harissa on the side as a condiment, adding it to an individual taste. Depending on the variety of chili pepper that you use, you can make it as hot or mild as you like. I wore rubber gloves while working with these hot chilies and remember not to touch your eyes. Be sure to wash your hands with soap & warm water.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica September 4, 2010 at 9:28 am

I’ve been hearing about harissa a lot in the past few years and wasn’t sure exactly what it was made of. Thanks for the informative post!

dinners & dreams September 4, 2010 at 2:24 pm

I love harissa. I love to use it in tagines and stews in general. Such an amazing condiment. Your photos of it are truly amazing.

Lael Hazan September 4, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Beautiful photos and I love that you gave a bit of history. I learned a lot from this post, thank you.

marla {family fresh cooking} September 4, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Ohhhhh, I would slather this harissa all over everything. Such a beautiful color. A great condiment to have sitting in the fridge. :) xo

Sara September 5, 2010 at 4:05 am

Dear Lael, Thank you so much! It means a lot coming from you!

Faith September 5, 2010 at 12:27 pm

I can imagine how this would dress up the flavor of so many dishes. It sounds perfect with the warm, crusty bread you mentioned!

Nadia September 5, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Harissa is a favorite of mine! Your pics are beautiful!

I love dipping harissa in bread and drizzling olive oil overtop!

Lani September 8, 2010 at 5:35 am

I can’t wait to try this recipe. I have been spoiled by my sister bringing me back this delicious, smokey condiment from her trip to Tunisia. Your recipe takes the intimidation out of making it from scratch. Thanks so much! Oh, and remember how good harissa tastes when smeared inside a panini?!

Olive September 8, 2010 at 8:15 am

Hi! :)

I love chillies!! Thank you for the recipe, can’t wait to try it ( I have all the ingredients ready) and share with my hubby!
Have a nice day! :)

Sue September 8, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Love this stuff! So similar to Shatta – Middle Eastern hot sauce. Looks great, Sara.

Sue September 8, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Love this stuff! So similar to Shatta – Middle Eastern hot sauce. Looks great, Sara.

Soma September 10, 2010 at 12:25 am

This is one of my favorite condiment and I make sure I have it at hand most of the times. Zests up almost anything it is added to. Looks gorgeous.

Joy September 10, 2010 at 2:44 am


currently I have my computer hooked up to a 30″ tv screen and let me tell you your harissa looks bold and beautiful to the point where I can almost TASTE it.

It’s a shame I can’t.

Once my schedule dies down I am going to make this, Ive always wanted to try Harissa but never had the chance!

Kevin (Closet Cooking) September 15, 2010 at 12:48 am

Making your own harissa sounds like fun and this one looks great!

manon kavesky September 26, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Can anyone help me out, I have fresh chiles not dried…
Should I seed them and then proceed with the recipe?
They are finger long and thin skinned.

all the best

manon kavesky

Sara September 27, 2010 at 1:34 am

Hi Manon! You can certainly use fresh chiles and yes do seed them! Thank you!

Karen Schuld September 28, 2010 at 1:37 am

Your Harissa photograph looks amazing. Love the texture. I am a big fan of hot red chiles

Sara September 28, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Thank you Karen! :)

Elizabeth July 16, 2011 at 8:39 am

Why is it necessary to use dried chillis? Could you not use fresh ones?

shoshana rotter July 21, 2011 at 7:59 pm

I didn’t try it yet, but it appears to be delicious

shoshana rotter July 21, 2011 at 8:01 pm

wonderful recipee

Kazi Md. Munzurul Haque (Shipon) February 23, 2012 at 6:30 pm

I love Harisssssssssssa ooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

olly May 8, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Hi, it looks wonderful, I was thinking of making a big batch ( well probably not that big reading some of the remarks ! )but, I was going to try a jam jar full, could you just double up the ingredients ?

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