One day when I was sitting at the dining table flicking through this gigantic book, I found the recipe in the margin of the page. I read it out to Mum, who was pottering in the kitchen, and promptly added chillies to shopping list.
Over the years I have made harissa a few times, and each time it has changed, often due to a lack of the actual recipe or the required ingredients. This; combined with my strange love for growing chillies (and rather hot ones) has resulted in my version tending to differ a little each time, though always seems to be, umm... very hot.
To make your own batch you will need:
A bunch of chillies
At least a knob of garlic
A couple of teaspoons each of caraway seeds, cumin seeds and coriander seeds
A few glugs of olive oil, and
A nice amount of salt
I like harissa quite hot and it seems to be rather addictive, though if heat is not your thing, you could cool it down by adding some fresh or roast capsicum, or if you grow or buy milder chillies you shouldn’t have a problem.
I also don’t measure my ingredients very well, but generally use mostly chilli, then garlic; fairly equal quantities of the spices, a fare amount of salt with enough olive oil to make a nice consistency – not to thick, but not soupy.
Place all ingredients in a food processor (or pestle and mortar – for a more rustic blend) and combine well.
Store in sterilised jars in the fridge.
The actual ingredients from The Cooks Companion are:
250 g chillies
1 head of garlic
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp ground caraway seeds
1 Tbsp dried mint
3 Tbsp fresh coriander
1 Tbsp salt
Harissa can be added to a bunch of different dishes and cuisines. It is perfect with cheese and crackers; can be added to things such as yogurt or hummus as a dip; or with Tagine, Ratatouille or Ossa Bucco for some kick. Plus, if you are anything like me, it might just start a slight obsession with chillies.