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Harissa Spice (Powder & Paste)

So apparently, the Harissa spice is quite popular but it seems I've been living under a rock because I didn't know about it until I started researching for my food blog! But I am so glad to have come across this delicious, aromatic spice. It is quite popular in the Northern part of Africa, orginating from Tunisia. But most of the dishes I've seen it used it are Moroccan but nevertheless, it is still popular in meals in the northern region.

The spice is very quick and easy to make. One of the things I like about it is the heat (although if you're not a fan of that much heat you can vary to recipe by using less chilli). I also love the smell of the different spices, specifically the caraway seeds &cumin. I also love that it can be used for a lot of dishes- from stews to soups, as a dip and also can be used as a marinade for meats or fish. I do love a versatile spice! I used it as a marinade for grilled chicken and it tasted absolutely delicious. Honestly making and using this spice has got me gingered to try out my own recipes using it. As I do so successfully, I will post on there! So watch this space ☺️

In this blog, I will be giving you a 2 in 1 recipe- the recipe for the powder form and also the paste form. Honestly, there is not that much work between both, once you've made the spice in the powder form, there's just 1 extra step to turn it into a paste as you will see in the recipe below. I used the paste form for my grilled chicken.

Before we get into the recipe, just to give a little bit of history behind the spice. Harissa comes from the Arabic word harasa which means 'to pound' or to 'break into pieces'. Well in my case, my food processor did the pounding/breaking lol. Like I mentioned earlier, it originated from Tunisia but popular amongst and enjoyed by other Northern countries like Algeria and Morocco. It is said to have originated after the Spanish occupation in Tunisia which introduced Chillies in Tunisia and later on Harissa came about by Tunisians.

Harissa is made up of these components- chillies, spices, salt (and oil, if you're making it as a paste- the oil helps to preserve it). If you're not a fan of heat, you can reduce the amount of chillies used in this recipe to suit your taste- so it doesn't need to be fiery for you to enjoy it. Now, let's get into the recipe.



This will make about 1 and 1/2 cup worth- so it will be a lot to keep you going!


Powder form:

- Cumin seeds: 6 tsp

-Coriander ground (or seeds): 6 tsp

-Caraway seeds (also known as Shahi Jeera): 1 & 1/2 tsp

-Dried chilli: 12 tbsp chopped (I used Chili de Arbol but you can also use Guajillo dried pepper/ New Mexico Chili)

-Smoked Paprika (or Kashmiri chilli powder): 6 tsp

-Salt: 3 tsp

Note, the recipe can also be made with fresh chill

Paste form

- 3 Garlic cloves

-3 tbsp Olive oil

-6 tbsp of harissa powder

-2 tbsp lime (optional)


-Pan- for roasting seeds

-Wooden spoon

-Spice grinder/ Coffee Mill


-Food Processor/Blender


Powder form

- Put the pan on medium heat ready to roast the seeds. First add in the caraway seeds, stir as you roast. After 1 minute, add in the the Cumin seeds and continue roasting together until they become fragrant. (If you're using coriander seeds, add this in as well and roast).

-After roasting the seeds, set aside in a bowl to cool.

-Chop/cut the dried chillies using scissors and set aside. A quicker way than chopping/cutting would be slightly blitz it in the spice grinder.

-In the spice grinder, pour in the roasted seeds and chilli and blend together. Do this in batches.

-Mix the smoked paprika, ground coriander and salt to blended spices & chillies- and that's it! Pour the powder into an air-tight container and use as needed. (See below for how to turn it into a paste)


-In the food processor/belnder, add 6 tbsp of the harissa powder mix, garlic and olive oil and then pulse. You can also add in the 2 teaspoon of lime juice but this is optional.

-Store in a container and place in the fridge.

Check out the reels section of my Instagram page for a quick video showing the process here.

Any questions, feel free to send an email or message on any of my social media platform.

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