Last Friday I taught the "Scrumptious Vegetarian" class. All of the recipes were from, or based on, recipes from one of my favourite books of the last year - Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. If you don't know this book, run to the library or your local bookstore asap. I have found this book to be truly inspiring.
Harissa is a hot chili pepper condiment that is traditionally served with couscous or fish stews. The original recipe in Plenty calls for one red pepper to be roasted before anything else is done. I made the recipe four times before I wised up and bought a jar of whole roasted red peppers. Roasting peppers isn't rocket science but it does take some time and I think it is probably one of those things that make the difference between someone making this recipe or passing it by. So use the jarred pepper and keep a stash of this in your fridge to serve with just about anything. Scrambled eggs, fried rice, stews, soups, stirred into pastas... The opportunities are endless!
How did I know this was a hit immediately? I ate my whole first batch before the clock had even reached 11am.
Makes 1 cup.
1 roasted red bell pepper
¼ tsp coriander seeds
¼ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp caraway seeds
½ Tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1-2 medium-hot red chilies, seeded and roughly chopped
½ Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp sea salt
Place a frying pan over low heat and lightly dry-roast the coriander, cumin and caraway seeds for 2 minutes. Remove them to a mortar and use a pestle to grind to a powder.
Add the olive oil to the frying pan and heat, then fry the onion, garlic, and chilies (if you don't want it that hot, use one red chili) on medium heat for 6-8 minutes, to a dark smoky colour. Cool slightly, then tip into a blender or a food processor. Add the remaining harissa ingredients, including the roasted pepper and ground spices, and blitz together to make a paste. Keeps in the refrigerator couple of weeks (well, I think it does, but mine has never lasted more than a few days).