“My tongue is smiling.”
It’s been an extended hot summer, really hot in every sense, now humid too. Add a HOT harissa to it and the combination gets teasingly explosive, bearable maybe? The Red Harissa turned out to be quite explosive, flavours that danced on the tongue. It’s become an integral part of my pantry, a sauce that I find myself reaching for more often than I really should be, but well!Once in a while you trip across a condiment, a sauce, an additive that is HOT in every sense! I’m not the only one who thinks so. I often find the dieting diva sneaking some into her ketchup, salsa, sandwich. She claims chili helps you lose weight, burn calories, but I suspect she is quite addicted to it too.The recipe is from a beautiful cookbook called Moorish, which lives up entirely to its name, and covers flavours from Mecca to Marrakesh! Greg & Lucy Malouf seduce your taste-buds with well laid out recipes, beautiful photographs and interesting trivia. They tempt you to churn our a chermoula as easily as you would a pesto, or to get as comfortable with tangines as you are with casseroles. NICE!With more and more pantries stocking up on spices and ingredients no longer considered ‘exotic‘, you would find most of the stuff either at home or at the corner store. The book reflects the cuisine that sprang as a result of the Arabic occupation of North Africa in the 18th century … the very idea of this culinary expedition is moorish!This sauce is more complex than most Moroccan versions, and one of many basic recipes Moorish offers – Dukkah, Za’atar, Preserved Lemons & Limes, Pickled Green Chilies, Tahini, Green Harissa, Toum, Taklia, Chermoula. The Chicken Paillard Fried in Cumin Butter is a recipe I use really often. Simple, quick to make, no do ahead stuff, and the flavours are amazing. A salad, a rustic bread, maybe roasted potatoes with it … We love a good chili sauce, the hotter the better; must be the Indian taste-buds, though a little goes a long way. The Sriracha Style Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce above is amazing and my to go recipe whenever red chilies are in season. This year however, I was a little busy and missed making a batch. With the tiny chilies in my garden in bloom, it was time to try the Red Harissa.
Initially taken aback by the number of chilies it used, dry and fresh, I was intrigued by the fact that it used a roasted bell pepper. Harissa is usually made with tomato paste. I made my first jar with slight hesitation; now on my fourth! Used the first batch on these Lamb & Purslane Pides combined with a homemade sweet Plum sauce. Was floored by the explosion of flavour!There’s been no looking back. A tiny 1/4 tsp in tomato ketchup makes it sing, and some in a salsa sets the floor ablaze. Even if you don’t like it hot, just a teeny dot perks up the flavours. Are you game?
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