I don’t know about you, but at one point or another in life, I have found myself strangely enamored with a specific type of food, from not being able to live without it to not ever wanting to be in its presence again, preparing my addictive personality for my next edible victim. One such addiction was home brand spearmint chewing gum, which you could buy in 100g bags from the local Migros in Bern. Too easy. Next up were the sugar free elderflower ricola lollies. I still can’t look them in the face. Too much sugar free guilt there. Then came the harissa craze. Harissa on salad, in soups, on pizza, and most importantly on things that didn’t yet taste of harissa. After moving to Australia I went on a fruit yoghurt trip, the after effects of which have surprisingly not deemed me lactose intolerant. My voyage of fanatic enthusiasm ended with nougat, and I am happy to say that today I am addiction free.
If you don’t count chocolate.
In the meantime, my taste for harissa has come back, and I suggest you get your paws onto a jar of it as soon as you can. However, I can’t guarantee that you’ll like it, as we all know flavor and quality varies from place to place.
You know where this is leading to don’t you.
I’m being serious. This home made version is the best I have ever tasted, so it seems a waste to just keep it to myself. Lets share.
This makes quite a bit, so I suggest you fill it into little jars to take with you to barbeques and picnics or other harissa lacking situations. Also, it will keep for about 5 days in the fridge, a little longer if you cover the surface with some olive oil.
1 bulb of garlic
1 large red capsicum
5 large red chillies, plus extra chilli flakes, to taste
3 tsp cumin seeds
3 tsp caraway seeds
100ml tomato passata
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp salt, to taste
1 tsp sugar
50ml olive oil, plus more for covering
Preheat your oven to 200°C. Cut the garlic bulb in half and wrap each half in tin foil. Place on a baking tray together with the chillies. And the quartered and deseed capsicum. Throw the tray into the oven and roast until the chillies and the capsicum start going black in places, after about 20 minutes. The chillies will probably be done before the capsicum, so remove them from the oven while the rest keeps doing its thing. You can check if the garlic is done by poking it to see if it’s soft. Everything done? Great. Get it out of the oven.
You know how most recipes go “place in a bowl and cover with cling wrap for a few minutes to enable peeling the capsicum”? Rubbish in my opinion. Just let it cool. Once the capsicum and chillies are cool enough, peel off their skin. Halve the chillies and scrape out the seeds and flesh. Unwrap the garlic and squeeze the soft cloves into the bowl as well.
Toast the cumin and caraway seeds in a fry pan until they smell nice, then transfer to a mortar and grind them to a powder.
Transfer the ground spices, the passata, the tomato paste, salt, sugar and oil into your bowl and give the lot a nice whizz with your hand held blender. Give it a taste and adjust the saltiness / sweetness / spiciness. Once it’s smooth and tastes the way you like it, transfer it into a large jar and cover with oil.