Harisa, as this recipe is locally known in North Africa, is a delicious spread for use on pita, toasted bread or other items. Simple and delightful, if spicy.

Tunisian Spicy Chile Paste (Harisa)
Recipe type: Spices
Serves: 16 / 1 Cup
  • 2 ounces dried Guajillo chiles (about 8 chiles)
  • 2 ounces dried California chiles (about 8 chiles)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • extra-virgin olive oil; as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground caraway seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  1. Soak chiles in tepid water to cover until softened, about 1 hour. Drain and remove stems and seeds. Puree in blender or food processor with garlic, water and 2 tablespoons olive oil until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides.
  2. Transfer mixture to small bowl and stir in caraway, coriander and salt. Store in jar, covering surface of paste with layer of olive oil. Whenever paste is used, you must always top off with olive oil, making sure no paste is exposed to air; otherwise it will spoil.
This recipe yields 1 Cup.

Each tablespoon: 19 calories; 222 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 2 grams fat; 1 gram carbohydrates; 0 protein; 0.16 gram fiber.

Variation: To make very hot harisa, use 4 ounces dried guajillo chiles and 1 ounce dried chiles de arbol.

Comments: To make salsa al-harisa (called harisa sauce), which is used as an accompaniment to grilled meats, stir together 2 teaspoons harisa, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley leaves.

NOTES: Recipe by Clifford A. Wright, author of "A Mediterranean Feast" (William Morrow, $35)

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