Harissa, (pronounced ha-ree-sa ) is a spicy chili pepper sauce or paste made with chillies, garlic and olive oil. Some recipes include spices that are traditional to the region. It can be used as a condiment or as a cooking ingredient.
The most common spices used for making harissa are cumin, caraway and coriander. Other ingredients include roasted peppers, mint, sun dried tomatoes and preserved lemons. Another interesting harissa recipe is rose harissa which uses rose petals as an ingridient. We produce a green harissawhich is made with green chillies and has a slightly different flavor profile than our classic red harissa.
History of Moroccan harissa
Harissa is the most common condiment in North African cuisine. Every region - even every family - has their own recipe, but they all agree on one key factor - harissa's main ingredient is chili peppers.
Chili peppers were introduced to North Africa through Morocco from Spain in the 16th century. These fierce and robust peppers, originally from Latin America, charmed Morocco's population in such a way that they quickly became a precious culinary component across the whole Maghreb region.
Morocco's sunshine and arid climate, as well as the abundance of olive oil, have provided the perfect conditions for the development of harissa.
The name 'harissa' comes from the Arabic word 'haris', which means to crush, referring to the action of crushing the chilies. Harissa comes in a variety of forms, such as harissa sauce, harissa paste which has a slightly thicker consistency than sauce, and also as a powdered spice blend which is meant to be used as a seasoning or rub or diluted with olive oil to reach liquidy consistency.
What is harissa paste?
Harissa is made by grinding all the ingredients together into an aromatic paste which is then blended with olive oil to the right consistency. If dried chillies are used, they could be soaked in advance to make their texture softer.
What is harissa sauce?
Harissa sauce, such as Mina harissa,is a homestyle variation of a harissa paste that is made with the same ingredients but is more user-friendly which makes it easier to use in day-to-day food.
Traditionally harissa is used as a beautiful flavorful addition to tagine and couscous or as a spread. It also can be used for roasting meat and vegetables and even in sandwiches. Read more about less common harissa uses.
Mina grew up on the wave-crashing shores of Casablanca and first learned the art of cooking from her dear mother: at 16 she tasted her next-door neighbor's homemade harissa and fell in love with the fiery red sauce. From a thick spreadable consistency, Mina played and experimented with the recipe until she made it uniquely hers. She added extra-virgin olive oil, a touch of vinegar and some garlic to the red-long-finger hot pepper base that gives the sauce its unique tangy-hot flavor profile.
Mina's harissa recipe hasn't changed over the years. She still uses the same few ingredients to create her harissa.
In fact, Mina's harissa is free from preservatives or any unnecessary ingredients to allow a genuine and homemade experience. It is also versatile and user-friendly to enable a perfect combination with any of your dishes. Mina offers you a clean and pure version of harissa that includes just a few ingredients and enough heat to invigorate your meals. You can buy Mina harissa from a variety of re-sellers such as Whole Foods or just straight from us!
Harissa is a recent culinary discovery by chefs across America, France and the United Kingdom and has replaced its distant cousins, sriracha and American hot-sauce. Appearing on classic and contemporary menus as the star condiment, it goes just as well with New Zealand lamb as it does with Southern barbecued chicken, scallops Provencal or a vegetable tagine with couscous.
Whether you choose the iconic original harissa, or the equally delicious mild or green varieties, Mina harissa will transform your meal into a culinary journey. Why not check out some of our delicious recipes for some ideas on how to utilise our versatile assortment of sauces?