The hot red-pepper paste known as harissa is the fiery heart of North African cuisine. At BonneBouffe, we’re proud to bring you authentic harissa paste from leading Tunisian producer Le Phare du Cap Bon.
The history of harissa
The first thing to say about harissa is that there’s no single version of it. Whether you’re in Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Libya or Israel, you’ll find that every serious cook has their own preferred harissa recipe. But the best-known version world-wide is the harissa prepared and exported by Le Phare du Cap Bon. This is a complex, satisfying blend of red chilli peppers, garlic, coriander, caraway and salt.
It’s appropriate that a Tunisian producer leads the way, because harissa originates in the country. In its current form, it dates back to the 16th century, when Columbus brought peppers back to Europe from the New World. Certified commercial harissa production is a relatively new development, but this delicious, spicy condiment has already made serious headway in the global market.
How to use it
If you like spicy food, you’re bound to enjoy harissa. In fact, buying a tube or tin for the cupboard is a no-brainer decision. But how exactly is it used?
Harissa is a key ingredient in brick, delicate Tunisian pastries, as well as spicy Merguez sausage. Try it in a traditional shakshuka: a baked dish of eggs, tomatoes and peppers, usually eaten for breakfast or brunch. Use it to enhance a chicken tagine or sweet potato falafel. Or go for a hearty, comfort-food option with this spicy chickpea stew.
Harissa lends a brilliantly spicy note to all kinds of ingredients including cheese, meat and eggs – especially fried eggs. Swirl it into hummus, layer it on roast vegetables or add it to avocado for an easy, healthy sandwich filling. It’s a powerful flavour, so if you’re using it just as it is, you don’t need much. Harissa can be used as a dip – but only if you like very spicy food!
Harissa is also a wonderful enhancement to grilled meat and fish as well as a range of simple vegetarian recipes. Depending on how much spice you like, a dash of harissa can be enough to add kick to your soup, sauce, dip or salad dressing. But if you love North African and Middle Eastern cuisine, this is where harissa really comes into its own – it works brilliantly with the Moroccan soup known as chorba.
How to store harissa
Harissa is a kitchen staple that’s as easy to store as it is to use. When unopened, it should be kept in a cool, dry place such as a pantry or kitchen cupboard. Once it’s opened, harissa paste should be refrigerated and used within four to six weeks. If you’re using a jar or tin of harissa, many home cooks recommend adding a thin layer of olive oil to protect the surface from drying up and keep the paste fresh for longer.
Our range of authentic French food online is always growing and changing as we source new products. If you’d like to keep up with our newest offerings, just enter your email below to sign up for our newsletter.