Harissa is one of those condiments that is going to be a hell of a shock for your white bread, margarine and mayonnaise sandwich eating ass. Yeah, you probably won’t try it… it’s one of those things you “just wouldn’t like”. That is possibly one of my least favourite lines ever – “I just wouldn’t like that”. How do you know if you’ve never tried it? The satisfaction I get when I can make someone eat those recklessly spoken words is unfathomable… back to the harissa though.
Harissa is a spicy condiment commonplace in the kitchens of Tunisia, and for good reason.
Roughly about as subtle as the underwear display at Mardi Gras, this is a 4-hit combo straight to the top of your dome. Aromatic with garlic, sweet with roasted capsicum, heady with cumin seed and fresh coriander, and spicy with chilli… very similar to an Arabic bazaar in your face, complete with belly dancers and monkeys with funny little hats.
Yes it has a good strong flavour, perfect to stir though steamed mussels, or maybe with some slow roasted lamb with yoghurt, or even mixed with a little mayonnaise on a chicken sandwich, or, as in the recipe I will be sharing with you today, used as a marinade for olives.
3 capsicum (bell peppers), it really doesn’t matter too much what colour they are… unless they are brown. Brown generally means they’ve gone a little past their use by date
5-10 long red chilli, depending on how spicy you like it
5 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon cumin seed, roasted & ground
½ bunch coriander, stems and roots and all, washed and then roughly chopped
60ml extra virgin olive oil
• Heat oven to 200C
• Place capsicum in an oven proof dish, rub with a little of the olive oil and season with a little of the salt. Whack it into the oven for 10 minutes
• Add chilli and garlic to oven dish, toss a little and whack it back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes (you should have a few charry blistery bits going on by now)
• Allow to cool for a few minutes until you can get in there and peel back some of the charred bits of skin. Kind of a get of whatever you can be assed ripping off at the time type mission… much like having sex with your socks on. You can be as frugal or as frivolous with your own charry skin pulling as you please
• Now your roasted goodies can go into a food processer or blender with all of the other ingredients and then blitzed to form a paste, smooth or coarse, it’s your call
• Check seasoning
• Stir harissa through 1-2kg of your favourite olives, leave for at least a day to marinate before eating
• Remaining olives will last for 3 or so weeks in a sealed container in the fridge
• If you decide you like harissa you can double or triple this batch and freeze it down in take away tubs