IMG_3970When it comes to Red Spicy Condiments, Harissa is my absolute favorite!! I was first introduced to its smoky hot flavor by a Tunisian friend a few years back, it was love at first taste! Over the years I have tried various brands of store bought ones, but finally resolved to making some at home.   This is a perfect condiment to quickly add spice to any recipe. I use it to marinate meat and vegetables before grilling, as a spread on bread, instead of ketchup with scrambled eggs/omelet/fritatas and my favorite -instead of chutney with Dosa.

IMG_3965To make this, first step is to choose the right type of chiles to suit your palette. Personally I like using Dundicut Red chilli, its packed with heat and has a full bodied complex flavor or Guntur Chilli because at the end of the day, I am a Hyderabadi after all. But don’t limit yourself with these choices, experiment. I have used Chipotle and Marita chiles for a smoky flavor, Guajillo chiles to reduce the heat and a combination of all of them. I have also Roasted Red peppers for the times when I had kids coming over.



  • 10-12  dried red chilli pepper of your choice.
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp tamarind powder/paste or 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp cilantro chopped
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste


  1. Soak the dried chile in the boiling water for around 45 mins.
  2. In a pan dry roast caraway seeds, cumin and coriander seeds till fragrant, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  3. Remove the stems and seeds from the soaked chile (If you want the Harissa to be real spicy, leave the seeds). Please be sure to take necessary precautions like wearing gloves and throughly washing hands after.
  4. Add the soaked chile, roasted spices, garlic, turmeric, cilantro and tamarind/lemon juice to a blender/food processor and make a smooth paste.
  5. While the blender/food processor is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Add more liquid for a thinner dip (For a longer shelf life add oil instead of water).
  6. Adjust salt and add more if needed. The flavor of the Harissa deepens in 2 to 3 days time.
  7. Transfer to a airtight container, top it with a thin layer of olive oil on top and store in refrigerator. For longer shelf life, layer the top with oil each time you use the Harissa.



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