Harissa – North African Ketchup?

Always have harissa on hand. That’s my new mantra, borrowed from David Tanis.

Harissa is a north African (Tunisian/Moroccan to be precise) chilli sauce. Doesn’t sound too impressive, but try some and you will become an acolyte. Talk about versatile. It’s great for just dipping crusty bread into, is delicious on barbecued prawns, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, like ketchup, it goes great with chips – that’s french-fries in the colonies. You can get it in tubes and cans, but it really pays to make your own. This version is a little different, and is made with olive oil.

A David Tanis recipe, makes about a cup’s worth.

1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
3 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 cloves garlic – ground to a paste with a little salt
1 cup olive oil (Use good olive oil, it pays off)
A few drops of red wine vinegar

Toast the seeds in a dry pan until they become fragrant. Grind with a mortar and pestle, or in a spice grinder – we have a coffee grinder that we use exclusively for spices. It’s very easy to clean, just run a handful of white rice through it after you’ve ground the spices.
Add the paprika, cayenne, garlic and a pinch of salt. Stir in the olive oil and vinegar. Taste and adjust as necessary – we found ours needed a dash more salt and a few more drops of vinegar.

Enjoy! It will keep in the fridge for at least a couple of weeks.

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