Basic Harissa

This is a chile and garlic paste from Northern Africa that I have been wanting to try for quite awhile.  I must say I waited way too long.  This stuff is awesome!  It’s not very hot, but it is super flavorful.  Use it anywhere you would Tabasco or Sambal (on eggs, in sandwiches, in soups/stews, etc…).  I used dried New Mexico chiles, but you could use any one dried chile or even a combination.  This is a basic Harissa recipe.  Other variations have tomato paste, cilantro, lemon juice, and/or cumin (among other ingredients).  I’ll probably add some cilantro next time I make this.  This keeps in the refrigerator a couple of months.

Basic Harissa
makes 1 cup

Note: You can grind the spices in a spice grinder, a coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

4 ounces dried chiles
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds, freshly ground
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds, freshly ground
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for storage

Place the chiles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let rest until softened, about 30 minutes. Drain, then remove the seeds and  stems from the chiles.

Place the seeded and stemmed chiles into the bowl of a food processor (or blender) with the garlic and pulse a couple of times. Add the salt, caraway and coriander. Process until smooth, pouring the olive oil into the feeding tube on top as you blend. Add a little water if necessary to achieve the right consistency: The harissa should be a thick paste. To store, top off with a thin layer of olive oil and refrigerate.

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