Harissa is a Tunisian spice sauce that is almost a catch-all for a lot of their dishes. As with all catch-all spices, there are variations to the basic theme, some like it very spicy so they add more cayenne pepper, others mint, and yet others both cilantro and mint.
- 1/4 cup dried red cayenne peppers
- 20 mild red chilis such as the Byadgi or Ancho Chilies (also dried)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon chopped mint (optional)
- Soak the chilies with 1/2 cup warm water for 15 minutes. Drain and reserve the water.
- In the meantime, toast the cumin and coriander seeds. Grind to a powder in a coffee grinder.
- Place the chilies, ground spices, garlic, salt and olive oil with a little water in a blender and grind to a paste.
- Add in the chopped cilantro and the mint and pulse a few times. Use some more water if needed.
- Store the mixture in the refrigerator and use as needed.