My Revised Harissa Blend…

In this post I bemoaned the fact that the Harissa I’d bought was way too hot, and had too much mint, and threatened to blend my own to suit my own palate. So I did – and published it here.

However, it turned out to be far too hot as well (too much Cayenne pepper), and unbalanced in other ways. Aside from the excess heat – you can always add chilli heat, you can’t take it out – it wasn’t actually that bad, but there was room for improvement, and this is it.

As before, it could be argued that it’s not Harissa now, but I don’t buy that as there are wide variations in formulation, and the stuff varies between countries and, I don’t doubt, between villages and towns too, in its native land, so this is…

My Harissa:-

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons ground coriander

1 tablespoon dried coriander leaf

2 tablespoons dried mint

2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons fine black pepper

½ teaspoon Cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons celery salt

2 teaspoons Garlic granules

I made two batches, one using whole, freshly roasted and ground, spices, and herbs bought online (and all long-dated), the other using Schwartz brand herbs and ground spices from the supermarket, which is what I always use when cooking. Flying in the face of received wisdom, the latter was better. Not by a huge amount, but it was perceptible and, of course, much easier.

The finished blend was whizzed in the spice mill in batches, briefly, to give the mix a more uniform texture, then tipped into a small glass jar, tightly capped and stashed in a dark cupboard. Always store herbs and spices in glass if you can, and in the dark, as both air and light are detrimental.

I’ve no idea what the shelf life might be, but as I get through herbs and spices very quickly, it’s not an issue for me. See note below if you want to scale it down.

Finally, I was intrigued, while researching Harissa, to see that some blends contain sweet paprika, and not the smoked abomination, either, the smallest amount of which makes your food taste as if it was salvaged from a deli fire.

Thing is, I use sweet paprika by the tablespoon, and rarely less than 2 – it’s extremely mild – so the amount you’d get in a tablespoon of Harissa would be so small as to be pointless – you’d not know it was there as it’d be bludgeoned into oblivion by the more dominant flavours. Still, no reason why I can’t add paprika separately. A tablespoon of paprika to a tablespoon of Harissa feels about right.

Note: Tablespoon and teaspoon were both measuring spoons, not cutlery and, if you want to scale it down, 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon.

My spice mill is a Krups F203 coffee mill, kept purely for spices. It mills extremely finely, and quickly.

I ran a tablespoon of the mix through the mill until it was as fine as it could be, then tipped it into a salt cellar (one with multiple small holes in the cap), to use as a condiment. Works very well, too.