Photo: Oxmoor House 
Hands-on Time
35 Mins
Total Time
45 Mins
Serves 32 (serving size: 1 tablespoon)

While this condiment has its origins in Tunisian cuisine, I first discovered harissa when a French chef I worked for pulled a tin tube of it out of his pocket and added it to a saffron mayonnaise that we slathered on charred toasts for bouillabaisse. In those days, chefs still had secrets, so I didn't dare ask. But I did my research, and noted that harissa could be found all over North Africa, where it's used liberally and flexibly. This version is fantastic on everything from grocery-store roasted chicken to some simply grilled steaks. Stir it into stews. Use it as a base for a vinaigrette. This is another versatile condiment in your repertoire. Put it next to your Sriracha in the fridge.


How to Make It

Step 1

Set up a kitchen blender. Grab a small sauté pan.

Step 2

Ready a grill pan or grill. The final product will be even more incredible if you cook outdoors and use good quality charcoal. Preheat to medium.

Step 3


Step 4

In a medium bowl, toss the chiles, the red bell pepper, and the onion slices in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Coat evenly.

Step 5

Grill the chiles, the bell pepper, and the onions over medium heat. We're not fully charring here, as you would for roasted peppers, but evenly, deliberately wilting. The pepper and the onions should have desirable char, of course, but should look "ready to eat" when they're cooked tender. Cook the Fresno chiles and onions 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Grill the bell pepper 15 minutes, turning occasionally.

Step 6

Set the grilled items aside to cool on a platter.

Step 7


Step 8

Now, fire up the sauté pan to just past medium-low. The pan should be too hot to touch, but not raging.

Step 9

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Swirl. Add the garlic cloves. Toss.

Step 10

Gently cook the garlic cloves, stirring from time to time, until they are tender to the tooth, about 15 minutes. If you are a garlic aficionado, use the full 24 cloves in the recipe, as you'll find yourself snacking.

Step 11

When the garlic is tender, set aside in a small bowl.

Step 12

Now, in the same pan used to cook the garlic, add the cumin and the coriander. Toast over medium heat until the aroma of the spices fills the room, about 2 minutes.

Step 13

Your chiles and bell pepper should be sufficiently cooled by now. Using a paring knife, remove their tops. Seed the bell pepper according to the Step by Step below, but not the chiles.

Step 14


Step 15

Throw the chiles and pepper into the blender. Don't turn it on yet. The garlic, too.

Step 16

Now add the spice mixture, salt, mint, sambal oelek, and lemon juice to the blender.

Step 17

Cover the blender, and progressively increase the speed to high.

Step 18

If the ingredients don't liquefy fully, add a splash or two of water to help the process along.

Step 19


Step 20

When the ingredients are fully liquefied, and with the blade speed of the blender reduced to moderate, remove the lid of the blender, and slowly drizzle in 5 tablespoons of olive oil. The sauce will emulsify, becoming almost creamy, but not quite.

Step 21

Store in an airtight container, refrigerated. This version is pretty perishable, so use it within a week.

Step 22


Step 23

Peeling and Seeding Bell Peppers

Step 24

1) Using a paring knife, cut around the stem of the pepper.

Step 25

2) Remove the stem. Most of the seeds should come with it.

Step 26

3) Cut off the bottom of the pepper, and then cut the pepper in half.

Step 27

4) Remove the membranes and any seeds that still remain.

Step 28

5) Carefully remove the skins.

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