Organizing The Pantry: Harissa – African Hot Sauce

Started cleaning the fridge & before I knew it, I was organizing the Pantry too.  It really needed it since I keep a very well stocked pantry in case I spontaneously want to cook something.   I found long ago that cooking is a very restorative process for me, so when I need to chill…..I cook.   And, since I don’t want to gain weight…..I give my neighbors food gifts, which are many times not your normal, run-of-the-mill foods.   But, they still like me and want more…..what a win-win, eh ??

So, in the back of one of the pantry shelves was a bag of dried New Mexico chiles which were a gift I brought back from visiting a foodie friend in Phoenix, who is a great cook.   After pondering a bit, I decided to make Harissa Paste, which is a tasty hot sauce from North Africa.   It has a different taste from Mexican, Indian or Thai hot sauce.  Is there such a thing as too many hot sauces ??

I adapted this from a recipe in by Saad Fayed, a Middle Eastern restauranteur.  Thank You, Saad !!    And, Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian has a how-to on Harissa Sauce.   I added Harissa Paste to Maple Syrup as a topping for savory pancakes and it was exactly the right thing….Hot & Sweet with Savory.   Enjoy !!!


  • 10-12 dried red chili peppers
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

Soak the dried chilies in hot water for 30 minutes.  Drain & remove stems/seeds.  In a food processor, combine chili peppers, garlic, salt, olive oil & blend.   Add remaining spices and blend to form a smooth paste.

At this point, you can adjust the ‘heat’ to suit your taste which enhances the complex flavor of this chile paste.    For very spicy, add cayenne or chile de arbol.   For medium, add a blend or cayenne & ancho or guajillo.  I added dried chile powder from my spice rack, a combo of cayenne & ancho.   (see for info on all chile peppers).

Store in airtight container; drizzle a small amount of olive oil on top to keep fresh.  Will keep for at least a month in the fridge.

HARISSA SAUCE, from Mark Bittman

1 c. broth
2 tsp harissa paste
1 T lemon juice
1 T cilantro  (or coriander)
Salt & Pepper
Mix until well blended.   Makes 1 cup.

About Pat Thomas

I love what food brings to our lives other than the needed nutrition. I share all my foodie experiments with friends & family. Thankfully they are usually delighted but always kind with whatever I've cooked up.
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1 Response to Organizing The Pantry: Harissa – African Hot Sauce

  1. Pingback: Fall Is Here: Pumpkin Walnut Waffles with Cranberry Maple Syrup | MI CUCINA ….at home in my kitchen

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