Harissa can be described as a condiment. Or a hot sauce. But it is so much more than that. It looks like a dark ketchup, based as it is on tomatoes and peppers.
Oh! It is sweet and spicy and so very, very flavorful!
Harissa has its origins in Morocco. It can be used in a dish, like a curry paste or as an accompaniment to a dish, like ketchup or Sriracha.
My recipe is based on the cookbook El Farol by Chef James Campbell Caruso. I usually double this batch, store the completed batches in the fridge for 2 weeks to let the flavors settle and combine (which makes the harissa so much better) and then freeze several jars worth. You may adjust the spiciness of this by adding more or less of the spicy ingredients. You may also vary this by adding more or less pepper or tomato depending on your own taste.
1 red bell pepper
2 roma tomatoes
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon hot smoked paprika
1 tablespoon crushed Ancho red chile flakes
juice of an orange
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Roast on a grill, on a gas stovetop or under the broil the pepper and tomatoes until black. After they are cool, remove the skin and seeds from the pepper and the cores from the tomatoes. Place in a food processor.
Toast the cloves, fennel and cumin seeds in a dry sauté pan until hot but do not burn!
In a mortar and pestle grind the seed mixture.
Puree all the ingredients together in the food processor.
The harissa should be fairly thick. If you would prefer it to be thinner add a little water.
Harissa can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 months.