image378Harissa is a chili sauce originally from Tunisia, although it is popular throughout North Africa and also in France, where mass-produced versions are ubiquitous, much like ketchup is in North America. We sell a couple of different types from Morocco and France and as much as I enjoy having something like this in a tube, harissa is much, much better when it is homemade. Aside from the fresh garlic and lemons (both optional), we sell all of the requisite ingredients. Traditionally, piri-piri (or bird's eye) peppers are the primary ingredient for harissa, but guajillo peppers are easier to find around here and are considerably less expensive, so those are what I use.

The following is a basic harissa-making method that can be easily tailored to fit your particular tastes. The spices can be omitted if you want it to be more plain.




Dried Guajillo Peppers (a few will do)
Olive Oil
Fresh Garlic
Fresh Lemon Juice

Begin by reconstituting the peppers in hot water. I put them in a saucepan covered in water. I bring that to a boil, turn the flame off and let it sit, submerged, several hours - until the peppers (skins included) are quite soft. In the meantime, add the salt and spices to taste in a mortar and grind away. I like to toast my spices first. Next, put the spices and the peppers in a food processor along with the garlic cloves. Some people say that true harissa should not contain seeds, others don't care. I remove them, but I don't bother to be very careful about it. A few seeds are OK. While the peppers, spices and garlic are being mixed, add the olive oil until it is the right consistency, then add the lemon juice to taste. Its viscosity will vary depending on how much olive oil you use. When finished, put your harissa in a glass jar and top with more olive oil to keep it fresh. For a classic harissa experience, use it with cous cous and merguez, which are also available at the store.