This condiment originated in Tunisia, but is also used in Algerian and Moroccan cuisines.  It is commonly used to flavor stews, soups, cous cous and more.  You can also use it as a meat rub, or spread some on a sandwich for spicy flavor.


  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2-3 jalapeno or other hot chiles, stemmed, chopped with seeds (the more you add, the hotter the harissa)
  • 2 large or 3 medium red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded, coarsely chopped
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoon chopped cilantro or mint leaves (optional)


Toast cumin, coriander and caraway seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until aromatic, 1 minute. Transfer to a mortar with pestle. Grind seeds to a fine powder. Combine ground seeds, garlic, chiles, red peppers and 1 tablespoon olive oil in bowl of food processor. Process, adding additional olive oil if necessary, for a thick sauce-like consistency. Add ground pepper and salt.
Let harissa sit at least one hour and up to 24 hours before serving. (Refrigerate until use.) Before serving stir in chopped cilantro and/or mint, if using.