Baking | Red Harissa – versatile, HOT, beautiful … MOORISH!

“My tongue is smiling.”
Abigail Trillin

Red HarissaIt’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!Red HarissaOnce 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.Red HarissaThe 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!Red HarissaWith 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!Red HarissaThis 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. Red Harissa

Red HarissaInitially 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!Red HarissaLamb CalzonesThere’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?

[print_this]Recipe: Red Harissa
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Summary: A flavoursome Moroccan red chili sauce which can be found in restaurants across Morocco.  Hot and explosive, it’s worth making. Adapted minimally from Moorish. Makes approx 200ml

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes plus cooling me

  • 1 red bell pepper, whole
  • 10-15 dried long red chilies
  • 4-5 small red chilies {recipe says 10}
  • 3-4 cloves garlic {recipe says 2}
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, roasted, crushed
  • 1tsp caraway seeds, roasted, crushed
  • 60ml olive oil


  1. Soak the dried red chilies in just enough water to rehydrate them while you roast the pepper. Crush the garlic with sea salt.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C. {I usually roast my bell pepper when I am baking something else, or do a large batch together}.
  3. Place thee bell pepper on a tray and roast till blackened and blistered, turning often. Remove and place in a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and leave for 10 minutes. Peel off skin carefully, discard seeds and stalk.
  4. Drain the red chillies and place with remaining ingredients. Puree with the olive oil. Taste carefully for seasoning – it is extremely hot. Adjust sea salt if required.
  5. Tip into a jar and cover with a thin film of oil.
  6. This will keep refrigerated for 3-4 weeks.


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  • 4 years ago

    I think I am addicted to Harissa as well. It manages to sneak into almost everything I cook or eat.

    Beautiful pictures as always!

  • 4 years ago

    I love harissa. This one looks really good!

  • 4 years ago

    I love the color of this harissa! A terrific condiment. I’m a chilli addict…



  • 4 years ago

    I love harissa, by the way your photos are stunning!

    • 4 years ago

      Thank you Mamat. You are sweet. Missed you on MacTweets!

  • 4 years ago

    Never tried harissa before but love the color!! great picture as always…

  • 4 years ago

    Never tried harissa before but it looks great. Love the colors…amazing pictures as always!

  • I have been addicted to hot sauces of all kinds. Bangalore has been gloomy and cold and I am craving spice all the time. I LOVE to add a dollop of hot sauces into my bowl of soup. I have been planning on making a chili sauce and blogging about it after seeing your GORGEOUS post with some of the best photos… I don’t feel the need to do it anymore! lol…
    Beautiful as always Deeba!

  • I have been waiting for a recipe like this. I can´t wait to try it!

  • 4 years ago

    must try this one out..since i love everything spicy!!!

  • 4 years ago

    An absolutely fiery sauce! I so love hot food, this is something I will definitely enjoy…

  • 4 years ago

    Hello deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeba! 🙂

    It’s awfully hot and humid in here as well :S still we cook, still we work, three cheers for us 😀 hehe

    Interesting but isn’t Harissa – some meat dish that combines meat and pulses and you have to cook it till Haleem consistency :S confused? me too.

    Anyways, i have some chillies lying around, now I know what to do with ’em… 🙂

    • 4 years ago

      Sweetheart, I think that is referred to as haleem? Harissa is definitely a Tunisian {North African} hot sauce … and deliciously hot too!

  • 4 years ago

    Your photography is beautiful as ever. This red sauce looks extremely hot, will have to try it.

    • 4 years ago

      Thank you Jo! Yes it is REALLY HOT …. but just a dash adds a load of oomph!

  • 4 years ago

    Deeba, beautiful pictures!!! I´m saving your blog in my blogroll

    • 4 years ago

      Julieta … you are too kind! My head is swimming in chocolate, summer fruit, beets and mousse! I am SO INSPIRED!

  • Natasha
    4 years ago

    Love Harissa as well though I don’t make it very hot! L.O.V.E the pics, gorgeous as always:)

  • 4 years ago

    Excellent blog. I particularly liked the idea of “Print This” summary.
    Nice photos, too. You seem to be good at both baking/cooking and photography

    I’ll try Harissa today 🙂

  • 4 years ago

    I love hot sauces and was wondering how I could make Harissa when I had a lunch with my boss and he mixed it with ketchup to put on french fries. This looks perfect. Wow!

  • 4 years ago

    I am not a chilli person. But those reds n oranges have me hypnotized. I am already addicted.

  • 4 years ago

    thanks for visiting my blog!
    great post! am lucky to have a mother in law that makes the best Harissa!
    am a big fan of Greg & Lucy Malouf books, my favorite is their book about turkey! the photography and recipes in that books are divine!! if you like that style you must check it out! leetal

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