Author Notes: At first I was frightened by this challenge, I could hear the nimble chairman’s neck snapping around and I was beginning to think all Bugs and Elmer Fudd but then it just kicked in…this turned out so well I want to sell it.
We love harissa. Think of it as the Tunisian counterpart to the suddenly, wildly popular sriracha. It’s the condiment that you will always want beside your tagine or couscous or even with an omelet. It is spicy so you owe it to yourself to pay heed to Scoville units and not Soviet planning. We see no virtue in most contemporary American hot sauces where heat overpowers every other flavor nor the stupid brand names which reflect that. Carrot gives it a somewhat floral sweetness to balance the aggressive pepper. Caraway and coriander are essential flavor elements in the real thing.
I used a combination of Spanish ñora peppers and cascabels. You could also use guajillo or ancho or arbol according to your taste and heat tolerance. Habañero go well with carrots but that really cranks up the heat quotient. —pierino
cup peeled carrots, finely chopped
1/3 cup oil packed sun dried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Dried peppers of your chosing; here I am using 5 Ñoras and 2 cascabel but you could substitute ancho or guajillo or whatever you like to your heat preference
1 tsp caraway seed
1 tsp coriander seed
Olive oil as needed (we like arbequina for this)
salt to taste
- Peel carrots and chop finely by hand, as many carrots as it takes to yield 1 cup
- Soak the peppers in boiling water, and allow the soaked peppers to rest for 1 hour. Then drain, stem and seed. Cut into pieces and transfer to a small food processor. Add peeled garlic cloves and sun dried tomatoes. Drizzle in some olive oil and pulse until smooth. Add more olive oil if needed
- With a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder), grind up the caraway and coriander. Add this to processor and pulse again
- Fold the contents of the processor into the chopped carrots. Season with salt. Taste for heat. If you think it’s not hot enough add some dried hot pepper flakes. That’s up to your palate and tolerance as it is a spicy condiment although it doesn’t have to be flaming hot.
- Note to cook: store in a glass jar in the refrigerator, topped with a little more olive oil to seal
- Another note to cook: you don’t want to lose the complexity of flavor by overpowering your harissa with hot pepper.. Just so you don’t come back and tell me I didn’t warn you…