Thursday, August 29, 2013

What's to Eat??? Harissa Paste!

This is an actual flavorful picture, no filter added! Watch out! :)

Move over Ketchup, Tabasco, and Sriratcha! and For those of y'all who don't know what harissa is made up of dried chillies, mint leaves, garlic,  extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice to make for this deliciously spicy chilli paste added to pastas, breads, soups, and whatever else you would like to add hot spreads to really.  I'll be honest, if you don't like spicy things, then skip this post.  BUT if you do like to spice things up, this is your go to. Warning, it becomes RIDICULOUSLY addicting and you will drop a lot of your other hot sauces you have.  With this fresh paste made by yourself, every meal will taste a bit better and your friends will be amazed!
What you will need:: (this will make about 3 cups worth)
  • 2 bags of dried chilli peppers ( I use Guajillo and mix with it with regular dried chillies-- a 2/3 to 1/3 dried guajillo ratio, but any dried chillies you have can work!)
  • Mint Leaves:: about two bunches
  • Olive Oil:: 2-3 tablespoons 
  • Salt:: 4 teaspoons or to taste
  • Lemon Juice:: 3-4 tablespoon or to taste
  • Cumin Powder::  3-4 teaspoons
  • Garlic:: 7 cloves

First you will want to take the ends of the chillies out.
  Now you are going to soften the chillies.  
Place all of the dried chillies in a bowl and soak it in boiling water.  Let it stand for about 30 mins or until you can see the water boiling.

While waiting for the chillies to soften, you can take your mint bunches and de-stem them.  You only want the mint leaves.  This part is tedious but well worth it.  The mint helps make the paste not tooo spicy. Saying that, experiment each time you make it to find your level. The more mint, the less spicy.  JUST REMEMBER, adding alot of mint leaves doesn't mean it won't be spicy, because it still will! It will just help managing the flavor. 
By now the chillies are probably soft and you can drain the excess water and seeds out.  It will be pretty hot so watch out! You might even want to let it cool for 15-20 minutes. 

Now whip your food processor out and add the garlic to be minced and then slowly add the chillies.  Then add the salt, lemon juice, and cumin powder and let them mix together.  You may need to scrape the sides down after a while to make sure it all mixes evenly. After it looks like an even paste, you can add your olive oil. Taste it and add lemon juice and salt to taste. 

Now add the mint leaves and blend until it reaches your desired smooth, thick paste.  
***The flavor will deepen and become less spicy as the next two days come so don't freak out if its a tad spicier than you will like.** Here, you will notice the paste is a deep red color, add little bits of olive oil and blend and keep repeating this a few times until you can see the color change into a medium red. It is now ready!

Transfer the harissa into a jar or container and add a teaspoon thin layer of olive oil to it.   Refrigerate it and use whenever you will like! It can last up to 2 months, but usually we finish it up by then.  ENJOY!!


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