~Harrissa – A Fiery North African Chili Sauce~

Harrissa, a staple in North African cuisine, is a fiery yet delicious chili sauce popular throughout Morocco, Algeria & Tunisia. It can be served as a condiment or a dip for a warm crusty bread. Harrissa is perfect for Tagines & Couscous to give the dish it’s prominent pungent chili taste.

The Chilies that Harrissa is made from were not indigenous to North Africa. The Spanish conquistadors introduced them to the Old World in the early 1500s upon there return from the Americas. In Tunisia, where the Harrissa originated, the sauce is mixed liberally with almost every dish. On the other hand Moroccans like to serve Harrissa on the side as a condiment, adding it to an individual taste. Depending on the variety of chili pepper that you use, you can make it as hot or mild as you like. I wore rubber gloves while working with these hot chilies and remember not to touch your eyes. Be sure to wash your hands with soap & warm water.

 Recipe adapted from: Ghillie Bhasan's flavors of Morocco
& Kitty Morse's Cooking at the Kasbah


12 Dried Chilies

4 Garlic Cloves

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

1 teaspoon whole & ground cumin


Wearing Rubber gloves, open the chilies and remove the seeds. With scissors, cut the chilies into small pieces. Place in a bowl of warm water and soak until they soften, ab0ut 30 minutes to an hour.

Squeeze the water from the chilies. Place them in a blender with the garlic, olive oil, salt, and cumin. Process until smooth. Store in clean jar covered with oil in the refrigerator. Use within 6 months.

Jessica - September 4, 2010 - 9:28 am

I’ve been hearing about harissa a lot in the past few years and wasn’t sure exactly what it was made of. Thanks for the informative post!

dinners & dreams - September 4, 2010 - 2:24 pm

I love harissa. I love to use it in tagines and stews in general. Such an amazing condiment. Your photos of it are truly amazing.

Lael Hazan - September 4, 2010 - 8:19 pm

Beautiful photos and I love that you gave a bit of history. I learned a lot from this post, thank you.

marla {family fresh cooking} - September 4, 2010 - 9:07 pm

Ohhhhh, I would slather this harissa all over everything. Such a beautiful color. A great condiment to have sitting in the fridge. :) xo

Sara - September 5, 2010 - 4:05 am

Dear Lael, Thank you so much! It means a lot coming from you!

Faith - September 5, 2010 - 12:27 pm

I can imagine how this would dress up the flavor of so many dishes. It sounds perfect with the warm, crusty bread you mentioned!

Nadia - September 5, 2010 - 3:18 pm

Harissa is a favorite of mine! Your pics are beautiful!

I love dipping harissa in bread and drizzling olive oil overtop!

Lani - September 8, 2010 - 5:35 am

I can’t wait to try this recipe. I have been spoiled by my sister bringing me back this delicious, smokey condiment from her trip to Tunisia. Your recipe takes the intimidation out of making it from scratch. Thanks so much! Oh, and remember how good harissa tastes when smeared inside a panini?!

Olive - September 8, 2010 - 8:15 am

Hi! :)

I love chillies!! Thank you for the recipe, can’t wait to try it ( I have all the ingredients ready) and share with my hubby!
Have a nice day! :)

Sue - September 8, 2010 - 5:03 pm

Love this stuff! So similar to Shatta – Middle Eastern hot sauce. Looks great, Sara.

Sue - September 8, 2010 - 5:03 pm

Love this stuff! So similar to Shatta – Middle Eastern hot sauce. Looks great, Sara.

Soma - September 10, 2010 - 12:25 am

This is one of my favorite condiment and I make sure I have it at hand most of the times. Zests up almost anything it is added to. Looks gorgeous.

Joy - September 10, 2010 - 2:44 am


currently I have my computer hooked up to a 30″ tv screen and let me tell you your harissa looks bold and beautiful to the point where I can almost TASTE it.

It’s a shame I can’t.

Once my schedule dies down I am going to make this, Ive always wanted to try Harissa but never had the chance!

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *



There was an error submitting your comment. Please try again.