Harissa

Harissa, a North African condiment, most associated with, but not exclusive to, Tunisia. There are so many versions of Harissa within North Africa, not to mention the similar Yemenite Schug and the South East Asian Sambal. The purest, most basic version of Harissa is made with rehydrated dried red chili peppers, garlic, salt and oil to seal and preserve. Great on sandwiches, fish and a dabble to jazz up soups, just to name a few uses. I love the kick my version got with that beautiful orange color, achieved by emulsifying the olive oil with the ingredients in the food processor.

Harissa
makes approx. 20oz

2oz dried red chills*
3 large bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut along the ribs
4 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
Juice from 1/2 large lemon

Extra olive oil to seal the top
Boiling water

Add dried red chilies into a large bowl and cover with boiling water. After 1/2 an hour, drain the water.

Line the bell peppers skin side up on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Broil until skin is completely charred. With a stainless steel spatula, immediately remove to a large ziploc bag and seal well. Be watchful not to get burnt from the steam. Peel when cooled down.

Add the caraway, cumin and coriander seeds to a skillet on a medium heat. Toast for a few seconds until you smell the aromas being released. Be careful not to burn seeds. Process the toasted spices in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder until you get a powder.

Add all the ingredients, except the extra oil, for sealing into a food processor and whiz until you reach a smooth consistency. Scoop into a jar and cover the top with oil to seal. Secure with a lid. Make sure to replenish oil for sealing after each use. Keep refrigerated for up to two months properly sealed with oil.

*I used chili Japones I had in my pantry but you can use Ancho chills for milder, lesser heat, or a variety of red chills.