Making Harissa

Harissa, as I’m sure you know, is a North African hot chilli paste used as an ingredient in, for example, tagines; for flavouring soups and vegetables, and as a condiment. You can buy it in tins and tubes, much like tomato puree, but the bought stuff lacks subtlety.

Two years ago, almost to the day, I made a batch, based on a recipe I got from an evening session in the Dublin Cookery School in Blackrock, to celebrate the end of the speech and drama examining year.

Here’s the recipe …

Here we are again, at the end of another examining year. It’s been a good one. The Irish Board has grown. The Irish Board of Dance Performance had twice as many exams this year compared to last year. Thanks entirely to Vicky Sargeant, the Board’s administrator, the transition from a paper based administrative system to an online one was a resounding and verifiable success. And so, today, I decided to repeat the celebratory Harissa-making, sticking more closely to the recipe this time. This is today’s creative venture.

Here’s the process. It’s not difficult but it is very worthwhile. The resulting paste has a subtlety and a complexity that cannot be matched by the tinned stuff.