Harissa Paste (a wonderful use for all those chillis in your garden)

I love spice and heat in my food and I’ve realised that as I’m growing older I love it more and more. In fact, I think I’m moving into a whole new chilli rating as I make curry after curry, smear harissa on everything and the pleas of “Plain steak and plain vegetables for dinner. Please!” are adhered to in a complete huff. I haven’t reached the stage of having a bottle of Tabasco sauce in my handbag ‘just in case’ I get caught out with no way of spicing up my food, but I’m not far away.


My eldest brother has the same penchant for spice, but unlike me, is an avid and very successful gardener. Thankfully he also lives by the Sharing is Caring philosophy so I get to benefit from the chilli fest going in his garden too.
I’ve adapted this recipe for harissa from a number of different versions. It’s delicious spread on a wrap with cooked chicken and salad for lunch, or swirled through plain yoghurt (as pictured below) and served with grilled meats or chickpea and carrot patties. I also have a beautiful Belinda Jeffery recipe for hot and spicy olives using harissa, garlic, rosemary and extra virgin olive oil as a delicious snack with drinks.
150gm long red chillis, deseeded
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp caraway seeds, ground
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp salt
½  lemon, juiced
1 sundried tomato halve.
1tbsp olive oil (plus more)
Throw it all in a food processor and process to a paste. Add small amounts of olive oil if you are having trouble getting it to come together as a paste.
• I’ve substituted the lemon juice with a quarter of preserved lemon rind.
• I’ve also omitted the caraway seeds at times for the simple reason that I couldn’t be bothered dirtying my mortar and pestle. On the other hand, I’ve toasted cumin and coriander seeds and crushed them up with the caraway for further depth of flavour.


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