Basic Homemade Harissa Recipe

Harissa is the classic Moroccan chili sauce. I make it in small amounts because you need only a little at a time, but you can double the quantities if you think you'll use it within four months. Some are made with roasted peppers and tomatoes, but I like a pure chile flavor. There are even versions with dried rose petals, but I honestly can't detect them, they have too many chiles to fight with.

Basic Homemade Harissa Recipe
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  • 2 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 5 fresh red chilies
  • 5 dried guajillo chilies
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • leaves from a small bunch of cilantro
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Toast the caraway, coriander and cumin seeds in a dry saucepan. Heat them for three to four minutes, until they start to release their fragrance. Pound in a mortar and pestle.
  2. Put the spices with all the other ingredients into a food processor and puree. You should get a thick, but not solid, paste. Add a little of the chile soaking liquid to help you get the right texture.
  3. Put into a small sterilized jar and pour a film of oil on top. Store in the refrigerator — make sure it is always covered by a layer of oil — and use within four months.
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