For those who like a little spice, this is a great condiment to have in your refrigerator to add a little umph to whatever you’re making.

Harissa is a North African chile pepper and spice paste that shows up frequently in many recipes from that region of the world.  I almost always find different ingredients for any harissa recipe when I happen upon one in a cookbook, magazine or on the Internet, but it will always contain hot peppers, garlic, spices like coriander and cumin and oil.  This version has all the fire from chiles, but gets some sweetness and tang from tomatoes and a bright pop of freshness and green from chopped cilantro and parsley.


It’s easy to make at home and is a welcome addition to a multitude of recipes.  Slather over meat for a marinade and spice rub in one, swirl into mayonnaise or yogurt for a flavorful dip for vegetables (potatoes are my favorite!), or use as a condiment to spice up a soup, sandwich, dressing, pasta dish, and on and on.  It will keep for quite a while in the refrigerator if you continue to replenish the olive oil “cap” on top, so make some and figure out what you like it best on!




  • Author: Amanda
  • Yield: about 1-1/2 cups
  • Category: Basics & Staples


Spice-laden, fiery chile pepper paste brightened with tomatoes, cilantro and parsley and perfect on everything!


  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 fresh hot red chiles, stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cayenne
  • Small bunch of cilantro leaves and tender stems (about 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon, to finish)
  • Small bunch of Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems (about 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon, to finish)
  • One 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Honey, to taste
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed


  1. In a heavy-bottomed skillet, toast the cumin and coriander seeds over medium-low heat for about 1-1/2 minutes, stirring often, until fragrant.  Transfer the seeds to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and process to a powder.
  2. In the same saucepan, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the chopped chiles and shallot, sprinkle with salt and sauté until softened and caramelized, stirring frequently, about 7 to 9 minutes. Add the ground spices, garlic, paprika, cayenne, cilantro and parsley; cook for 30 seconds, until the garlic is softened and fragrant.  Add the tomatoes and water, stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 50 to 60 minutes.  
  3. Transfer the mixture to a food processor.  Add the lemon juice, fresh cilantro and parsley, honey, and salt and pepper to taste. Puree the mixture until mostly smooth in a food processor.  Transfer to a clean jar and add a light layer of olive oil to the top.  Cover and refrigerate.  Replenish the olive oil over top after each use.


Inspiration: Harissa, Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady

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Comments (5)

Wow this looks so great. I love harissa and have been trying to add it into my dishes recently. This one is definitely on my list to try! Thank you!

Thank you! I hope you do try it!

[…] more fresh herbs right at the end and you have some really fancy-looking fries.  Dip them in some harissa mixed with mayonnaise for a real treat.  A little sprinkle of ground Parmesan cheese would not be […]

[…] which is the perfect foil for the sweet carrots.  Remember that we’ve made both homemade harissa and labneh here before?  Perfect time to whip up those recipes in your own […]

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