I came home from Rangashankara one Thursday evening (for the uninitiated, I fast on Thursdays – I eat only one meal, post sundown, having eaten before that only on Wednesday night. The point here being, I’m usually FAMISHED by about 7 pm on Thursdays), after having watched a play and gotten a flat tyre fixed. Needless to say, I was starved. And tired. And the one thing that would make me feel good was some good food. I downed a gladd of guava juice and decided to make falafel. From whatever I had at home. Healthy falafel. Not-so-regular falafel. But falafel, nevertheless.

The falafel recipe will come in another post. This one’s just for the harissa. As a result, I don’t really have any pictures of the harissa alone. But you’ll see it in the falafel post and a couple of other posts where I’ve used it.

I remember eating harissa for the first time when I was holidaying in Egypt in December 2010, at a place called Abou el-Sid in Cairo. And then again at a little Moroccan stall (where I ordered a lamb tagine) at the Marché des Enfants Rouges in Paris, in August 2012. The flavours stuck. And I also remember having looked up a recipe, while I was still on my little trip around Europe. This had to be made when I got back to Pune (Bangalore was never on the cards then, was it?)

A couple of dinners at Fava, once with the paternal unit and another time with the mothership, and still not having made any harissa was an insult to my intellect. Ok, not so much. But yes, it was making me feel awful and incompetent and put-in-whateer-other-nasty-words-you-like-already.

This was my golden chance! My one and only opportunity to reclaim my… Ok, I’ll cut the drama.

I used this recipe, with some changes.

10-12 whole, dried red chillies (the long kind, not the round ones. I believe they’re called Arbol Chillies in other parts of the world. In India, you can get them at any grocery store)
3-4 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1. Soak the dried chillies in hot water for 30 minutes.
2. Drain and remove the stems. If you want to cut down on the spice, removed the seeds as well. I let the seeds remain.
3. Throw the chillies and the dry spices in a blender. Add the olive oil and blend to form a smooth paste.

The olive oil ensures the harissa stays good for a while. I made a small jar full and it has been sitting around in my refrigerator for a month. I pull it out every weekend, add a half teaspoon worth to a falafel recipe, or while making some marinated olives and I’ve even used it with some lamb over rice.

I even shared the recipe with sexy best @hariflute one time, and when he was home a couple of weeks ago, he quite fell in love with it and decided to use it to marinate some chicken wings. I think they must’ve turned out fairly alright, else he’d have called or written to complain.

Long live Harissa!


4 thoughts on “Harissa

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