The most popular condiment in North African cuisine, harissa is a spicy sauce or paste made with chile peppers, garlic, and olive oil. Though its recipes vary from region to region (even from family to family) and its consistency ranges from a thick paste to an easy-to-use sauce, harissa always contains at least one key element: chile peppers.
In addition to red chile peppers, common harissa ingredients include roasted peppers, sun-dried chile peppers, preserved lemons, cumin, caraway, and coriander. Harissa is made by grinding everything together into an aromatic paste, which is then blended with olive oil to the desired consistency.
History of Harissa
Chili peppers were introduced to North Africa through Morocco from Spain in the 16th century. Originally from Latin America, these fiery and robust peppers so enchanted the Moroccan people that they quickly became a precious culinary component across the entire Maghreb (the northwest African region bordering the Mediterranean, including Algeria and Tunisia). The name “harissa” comes from the Arabic word “haris,” which means to crush.
Varieties of Harissa
Harissa comes in a variety of forms, such as a sauce, a paste, and a powdered spice blend meant to be used as a seasoning or rub, or mixed with olive oil to reach a spreadable consistency.
How to Use Harissa
Harissa works as either a condiment or cooking ingredient. Traditionally, the red-pepper blend is used to add bold, spicy flavor to tagine and couscous, and it is now popularly used to enhance a variety of meat, seafood, vegetable, pasta, rice, or egg dishes. Harissa also works wonderfully as a dip or spread for sandwiches.
Mina first perfected her recipe as a teenager in Morocco. She still uses the same simple recipe to this day to create her beloved harissa. Made from just six ingredients (red chile pepper, red bell pepper, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and salt), Mina harissa is completely natural and free of preservatives to provide an authentic homestyle Moroccan experience. Whether you choose our signature spicy harissa, or the more subtle but equally delicious mild or green varieties, Mina harissa will transform your meal into a culinary journey.