What is Harissa? What Does it Taste Like?
Harissa is a spice mix or paste made with chilies, olive oil and spices. It’s a must-have in Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Morocco and other North African and Middle Eastern countries. It’s often made spicy, but citrus and other cooling spices can be used to calm it down.
Our Harissa is hot, but not in the danger zone for people who don’t like it super hot. The hottest element is our high quality chili flakes. People tend to say “It’s hot, but not too hot and really delicious,” when they try it. Our Harissa’s flavor profile is:
- 35% Spicy
- 20% Fruity
- 15% Nutty
- 15% Savory
- 5% Sweet
- 5% Pungent
- 5% Bitter
Harissa is typically made by grinding dry peppers into a fine powder then rehydrating them with water in a pan or by roasting fresh chilis until their skins char and the insides soften. Those peppers are then blended smooth with fresh spices, oil and lemon juice.
That, while super fun, is a lot of work ~ which is why we came up with our Harissa spice rub. Now you can mix it with olive oil, lemon and a little water to make an authentic Harissa paste without all the chili roasting and grinding.
How Do You Use Harissa and Make the Paste?
You can make a traditional Tunisian Harissa paste by mixing this spice blend with olive oil, a little water and some squirts of lemon. This is a hot blend, but it’s not blazing hot. If you have guests who are sensitive to heat, you can also add or serve it with yogurt to cool it down if you wish.
Harissa seasoning is often used:
- As a dry BBQ rub for grilling meat
- As a marinade for lamb, chicken, meatballs, kabobs, steak, tofu, seitan, shrimp and more
- To enhance and ramp up other condiments, like mixed in with aioli, mustard or ketchup
- To make your sauces and stews sing – from tomato sauces to shakshuka and chili, it adds so much flavor
- Mixing with high heat oil to roast veggies, beans (chickpeas!) or chicken and fish
- Mixing with olive oil, lemon and water as a paste for an all-purpose condiment, like sriracha, that can be used on virtually anything, but especially sandwiches, falafel, burgers, eggs, hash browns
- Mixing with olive oil, lemon and water to make a spicy and delicious dip for BBQ, like chicken wings or kebobs, or for fried foods like fries, fried pickles and fried cauliflower
- Sprinkling the spices as topper on your favorite foods – from pizza, corn on the cob and salads to potatoes, pasta dishes and beyond.
- See the “Recipes with Harissa” tab on this page for more ideas
It’s truly an all purpose seasoning, so have fun getting creative with it and adding a spicy, tingly North African flavor to your meals.