What is Harissa? - Jamie Geller

What is Harissa?

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Let’s get spicy.

I’m talkin’ burn your mouth on fire spicy. Can you handle it?

If you can, read on about my Harissa journey…

Harissa is a traditional North African/Tunisian condiment. I wanted to keep my harissa spicy enough to be authentic, but manageable for my taste buds. Armed with my ingredient list, I went to my local grocery store to buy my spicy peppers. I asked the man unpacking vegetables how he makes harissa. It is one of his favorite condiments and he wished me a joyful good luck making this dish. Smiling, he must have known I was picking the spiciest peppers unknowingly about to burn my mouth and bring tears to my eyes. I was supposed to buy only one habenero pepper, and I bought four. Followed directions for the ingredients of the recipe I found, but with the wrong peppers!!

So wonderful readers, when you set out to make harissa, shop SMARTLY. Learn your peppers beforehand! Harissa, when made correctly, is an incredibly flavorful sauce that is so versatile.


Try it with scrambled eggs or as a marinade for meat/chicken/ fish. Or follow my lead and try  your favorite Chummus recipe with Harissa or my inventive Sauteed Pasta with Harissa (using wonton wrappers).

Harissa Sauteed Pasta

Harissa Sauteed Pasta

Even though my mouth burned because of the pepper’s heat, I craved the spice the very next day. Go harissa!

Harissa Recipe