Ras Al Hanout | home | Tahini Yoghurt Dressing

Red Harissa

This is a fiery sauce used extensively as a condiment in the north of Africa. Yet again, this is another recipe from Greg Malouf’s “Moorish” cookbook, with minor edits by myself. If you have any inclination towards the foods of North Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean you MUST buy this book (and his other main work, “Arabesque”).


  • 1 red pepper (capsicum)
  • 10-15 dried red chillies (if using dried chilli flakes, you want enough to simulate this quantity, I used about enough to cover my palm)
  • 10 small bullet chillies (the very hot variety, I sometimes use 15 of these)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tspn sea salt
  • 1 tspn cumin seeds (roasted and ground)
  • 3/4 tspn caraway seeds (roasted and ground)
  • 60ml (2 fl oz) of olive oil



Preheat oven at 200 C (400 F)
Place the pepper on a baking tray in the oven and roast until skin starts to blacken (turn occasionally), alternatively I’ve found success in flame roasting using either a gas cooktop, gas bbq or an open fire.
Remove the pepper from the oven, place in a bowl and cover with cling wrap (or a plate, anything that seals the bowl will do), leave to steam for 10 mins.
Remove pepper from the bowl and peel off the skin making sure to remove *all* the burnt parts. Place in a food processor.
Place the dried chillies in some boiling water for about 10 to 20 mins (until they’ve reconstituted, then remove from water).
Seed the bullet chillies but leave the white inner fibres intact. (Note, seeding the chillies in optional, the last batch I made I didn’t bother and it turned out equally well, and maybe a tad hotter than usual)
Crush the garlic with the salt.
Place all the ingredients. in the food processor and blend to a paste. I find you can add the oil at this point and blend it in, this provides a slightly oilier but longer lasting (maybe) sauce, and negates the need for topping the jar off with oil.
Carefully taste to see if more salt is required (harissa is VERY HOT, you have been warned).
Pour into a jar and cover with a layer of olive oil, seal and keep in the fridge.


The original recipe stated the shelf life at 3 to 4 weeks, but I’ve found that if kept refrigerated it’ll last for months. The fieriness of the chillies seems to prevent anything bacterial from growing in it.

I adore this stuff, it’s incredibly hot (as in spicy) but has a wonderful earthy flavour with smoky undertones that works incredibly well with a lot of North African/Middle Eastern foods.

Best used in moderation and accompanied with a yoghurt sauce of some sort (Tahini Yoghurt dressing works well, as does plain greek yoghurt).


Moorish – Flavours from Mecca to Marrakash”: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1876719982/vikingshomeip-20
Authors: Greg and Lucy Malouf
ISBN: 1-876719-98-2
Published: “Hardie Grant Books”:http://www.hardiegrant.com.au/ , 2001

posted to Moorish,Recipes @ 6:49 am

Did you like this recipe? You might also like:

  • At 2:34 pm on 20 March, 2009, Valda Gratton commented:

    Will comment when I have made and tried this. Looks like what I have been looking for.

Sorry, comments are closed

Ras Al Hanout | home | Tahini Yoghurt Dressing