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Harissa: Discover everything about this Maghreb spice

Hello, food lovers! Today we're going to talk about a spice that has gained more and more popularity in recent years: Harissa. This spicy condiment originating from the Maghreb offers an unparalleled flavor to your recipes and can be used in different ways.


Harissa: Discover everything about this Maghreb spice

Have you heard about Harissa? If not yet, don't worry, as in this article we will explore everything about this fascinating delicacy.

Main Conclusions

  • Harissa is a spicy condiment originating from the Maghreb.
  • It offers an unmatched flavor for your recipes and can be used in different ways.
  • This article will explore everything about this fascinating delicacy.

Origin and history of Harissa

Oh, Harissa! This traditional and delicious Moroccan seasoning. But, do you know where it comes from? Harissa's origins date back to the 7th century and its history is as spicy as its flavor.

Legend has it that Harissa was created by the Berbers (a nomadic people who inhabited North Africa) as a substitute for salt. However, its popularity grew thanks to Tunisians, who started using it in typical dishes, such as couscous and mechouia (eggplant salad).

Over time, Harissa spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East, gaining new seasonings and ingredients in each region. Its fame reached Europe and, today, it is one of the most beloved spices in the world.


Interesting, isn't it? But wait, there's more! Harissa also plays an important role in the culinary culture of the Maghreb. In Tunisia, for example, it is common for women to prepare their own Harissas, adapting the flavor according to the family's palate.

In Algeria, Harissa is used as a type of sauce to accompany couscous. And in Morocco, the seasoning is considered a symbol of local cuisine, and can be found in several dishes, such as tagine and b'stilla.

Now that you know a little more about the history of Harissa, let's find out what its main ingredients are? Follow the next topic!

Harissa main ingredients

Harissa is a spicy seasoning that originated in the Maghreb and is made with a combination of delicious ingredients that make it irresistible. If you are a pepper lover, you will definitely fall in love with Harissa's unique flavor. Here are the main ingredients:

red peppersRed peppers are the main ingredient in Harissa and are responsible for its characteristic spicy flavor. Both fresh and dried peppers can be used in its preparation.
GarlicGarlic is an essential ingredient in Harissa, adding an unmistakable flavor and delicious aroma. Furthermore, garlic has several health benefits.
of olive oilOlive oil is used to add a touch of smoothness to the harissa and help balance the spiciness. Additionally, olive oil is rich in antioxidants and heart-healthy fatty acids.
CuminCumin is a spice that adds an earthy flavor to Harissa and is a great complement to red peppers. Furthermore, cumin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
CorianderIt is a great snack or breakfast option that is packed with nutrients and will help satisfy your hunger. Plus, it’s easy to make and can be customized to your liking. cilantro is used to add a fresh, herbal flavor to Harissa. Additionally, cilantro is rich in nutrients and can aid digestion.

Some other ingredients can be added to the recipe, such as salt, lemon juice and sun-dried tomatoes, depending on the region and personal preference. Experiment with different ingredient combinations to create your own unique version of Harissa!

Red Peppers and Harissa Ingredients

Harissa Varieties

If you thought that Harissa was a homogeneous mixture, you are wrong! Like many spices, Harissa has several varieties, each with its own peculiarities.

The most common variety is the red, which contains red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and coriander. However, there are also green, yellow and even white varieties, which contain different types of pepper, herbs and spices.

Some producers also add other ingredients to Harissa, such as cumin, brown sugar, vinegar and olive oil, to create a unique combination of flavors.

VarietyMain ingredients
RedRed pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and coriander
GreenGreen pepper, coriander, parsley and cumin
YellowYellow pepper, garlic, coriander and turmeric
WhiteWhite pepper, nutmeg, cumin and fennel

So, if you are passionate about Harissa, try different varieties to discover new flavors and combinations!

Harissa Varieties

How to use Harissa in your recipes

Harissa is a versatile seasoning that can be used in many recipes! I like to add it to sauces, marinades, baked goods, and even soups. In fact, you can use Harissa in any dish that needs a touch of pepper and flavor.

Some ideas for you to try:

  • Add a teaspoon of Harissa to tomato sauce for extra flavor;
  • Mix Harissa with a little olive oil and rub this mixture on meat or chicken before roasting;
  • Dilute Harissa in vegetable broth to create a flavorful soup;
  • Add Harissa to hummus or guacamole for a spicy kick;
  • Use Harissa as a sauce for dipping vegetables or bread.

Remember that since Harissa is a strong spice, you should add it little by little to your recipe and taste the flavor before adding more.

Harissa on a plate of food

But don't worry, if you overdo it, there's an easy solution! Add some yogurt, sour cream, or coconut milk to tone down the tanginess.

With a few drops of Harissa, your recipe will turn into a delicious meal with an exotic and attractive flavor. So, don’t be afraid to experiment and explore the potential of this North African spice!

Health Benefits of Harissa

When I discovered that Harissa not only adds an irresistible flavor to my recipes, but can also bring some health benefits, I became even more of a fan of this Maghreb spice. Here are some of the main benefits that Harissa can provide:

Anti-inflammatoryHarissa contains capsaicin, a compound that is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce inflammation in the body.
AntioxidantThe red peppers used to make Harissa are rich in antioxidants, which help fight free radicals and prevent cell damage.
Source of vitaminsHarissa contains vitamin C and vitamin A, which are important for skin, eye and immune system health.
Stimulates metabolismConsuming spicy foods like Harissa can help boost metabolism and aid in weight loss.

Of course, it is important to remember that Harissa is a spicy condiment and may not be suitable for all palates. If you're not used to hot peppers, start with a smaller amount and gradually increase it.

And always remember to check the ingredients list of the Harissa you are purchasing to ensure it does not contain allergens or other ingredients that could be harmful to your health.


Where to find Harissa

If you are a fan of exotic and spicy seasonings like me, you will definitely want to try Harissa in your recipes. Fortunately, this Maghreb seasoning can be found in several physical and online stores that sell imported products.

One option is to check supermarkets and grocery stores that sell international ingredients. They often have a section dedicated to products from the Middle East and Africa where you can find Harissa.

Another option is to look online at stores specializing in imported products. Some popular stores such as Amazon, Americanas and Submarino sell Harissa on their websites. Be sure to check the seller's reviews and reputation before making a purchase.

If you like supporting small, local businesses, try looking at natural and organic food stores. They usually have a selection of different seasonings and spices, including Harissa.

And, if you are the creative type and like to experiment in the kitchen, you can try making your own Harissa at home. The classic recipe is simple and easy to follow, just gather the right ingredients and mix them in a blender or food processor.

Regardless of where you find Harissa, I'm sure you will fall in love with the spicy and delicious flavor of this Maghreb spice.


Curiosities and tips about Harissa

If you've made it this far, it's because you're really interested in the cuisine and flavors of the Maghreb. Therefore, I have put together some curiosities and tips that will make your experience with Harissa even more special.

After all, how do you pronounce Harissa?

This is a common question among those who are starting to use Harissa in their recipes. The correct pronunciation is “haríssa”, with emphasis on the second syllable.

Be careful with the quantity

As Harissa is quite spicy, it is important to be careful with the amount used. Start with small portions and experiment until you find the ideal size for your taste.

Harissa for breakfast

Yes, it is possible! Harissa is a great accompaniment to eggs or toasted bread with cheese. Try it and be surprised by the flavor.

Harissa Conservation

To ensure the durability of your Harissa, keep it in a well-sealed container and in the refrigerator. It can last up to two months.

Harissa as a universal seasoning

You don't need to limit yourself to using Harissa only in Maghreb dishes. Try adding it to other recipes such as salad dressings, meat marinades and even sandwiches.

Harissa and beer

If you are a fan of craft beers, try pairing your drink with dishes that contain Harissa. The combination can surprise your taste buds.

Why not make your own Harissa?

In addition to being more enjoyable, making your own Harissa ensures that you use fresh, quality ingredients. With a quick search on the internet, you can find several recipes to try at home.

Harissa ingredients

Now that you know everything about Harissa, it's time to put it into practice and try this Maghreb delight. With these tips and curiosities, your culinary experience will be even more delicious and fun. Enjoy!

Classic Harissa Recipe

If you want to try authentic harissa, look no further. Today, I'm going to share with you my classic harissa recipe. But be careful, it may be a little spicy for some palates!


The amountIngredient
15Red peppers (I use finger pepper)
3Garlic cloves
1Tablespoon of coriander grains
1Tablespoon of cumin powder
1Teaspoon of salt
1/4cup of olive oil

Method of preparation:

  1. Cut the peppers into small pieces and remove the seeds;
  2. Add the peppers, garlic, coriander grains, cumin and salt to a food processor and grind until it becomes a paste;
  3. Add the olive oil and beat again until the mixture is homogeneous;
  4. Place the harissa in a sterilized glass jar and cover with a little more olive oil to preserve. It lasts up to 3 months in the refrigerator.

Ready! Now you can add this Maghreb delicacy to your favorite dishes. I love using it on lamb, chicken, sauces or even on toast with fresh cheese. Enjoy!

red peppers


What a wonderful journey it was to discover everything about Harissa! I hope you learned as much as I did and are as in love with this seasoning as I am. After all, who doesn't love spicy food full of flavor?

In addition to being delicious, Harissa is full of health benefits. It is rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. And the best of all is that it can be found in different places, from specialized stores to supermarkets.

And let's face it, Harissa is super versatile! It can be used in various recipes, from savory dishes to desserts. My tip is to try it in meat recipes, like chicken or lamb, it’s simply sensational!

Now that you know everything about Harissa, how about getting your hands dirty and preparing a classic recipe for this wonderful seasoning? Don't worry, I've already separated the recipe for you in the next topic!

Ready to fall even more in love with Harissa? Here's the classic recipe!

Common questions

What is Harissa?

Harissa is a spicy seasoning originating from the Maghreb, a region located in North Africa.

What are the main ingredients in Harissa?

Harissa's main ingredients include red peppers, garlic, coriander, cumin, salt and olive oil.

Are there different varieties of Harissa?

Yes, there are several variations of Harissa that can vary in terms of spiciness levels and addition of ingredients such as tomatoes, peppers and extra spices.

How can I use Harissa in my recipes?

Harissa can be used as a seasoning in dishes such as stews, marinades, sauces, soups and even in burgers to add a spicy kick.

What are the health benefits of Harissa?

Harissa contains antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that can help strengthen the immune system, improve blood circulation and even aid in weight loss.

Where can I find Harissa?

Harissa can be found in specialty food stores, supermarkets that have an international foods section, or even online.

Any interesting facts about Harissa?

In Morocco, Harissa is often eaten for breakfast along with bread and olive oil. Furthermore, it is also used as an amulet to ward off the evil eye.