Harissa Paste and Harissa Yogurt Dipping Sauce

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Harissa is another sauce I knew nothing about till recently just like the Tzatziki. And just like the Tzatziki, reading up made me think of a chutney which is a staple in Rajasthani households –  ‘Lehsun/Garlic ki chutney’!
The same method  i.e. soaking of chillies and grinding with garlic and spices- quite a few of them that I use in my kitchen on a daily basis like the coriander and the cumin. The pungent taste and the versatility.The only difference being that lehsun ki chutney is cooked in oil and Harissa is stored under a layer of oil.

 The Kitchn says ‘This Tunisian chile sauce is a fantastic shortcut to spice up a meal and can be used with everything from meat to vegetables, couscous, roasted potatoes, scrambled eggs, as a dip for bread … the list is truly endless’

Any kind of chillies may be used. For a less pungent paste, add some charred red peppers along with chillies.
I made it with Byadgi chilli and it came out nice and just the right level of pungent.
A combination of red peppers and chilli peppers may also be used.
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10-12 red chillies soaked in boiling hot water for 30 mins
10 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp caraway
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
salt to taste
1 large tomato
1 tbsp olive oil plus more to cover if storing
1 tsp lemon juice
Remove the stems of the chillies   and soak for 30 mins in hot water. Store the water and use in case needed while blending the paste.
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Remove the seeds.
Dry roast the caraway, coriander and cumin. Let cool.
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In a food processor add the chillies, garlic, tomato, salt, the roasted spices, lemon juice and grind to a thick, coarse paste adding EVOO slowly.
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Store covered with a thin layer of olive oil.
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The paste stays good for a month in the refrigerator.
Keep adding some olive oil as you scoop the paste off the top.

To make a dipping sauce, stir a couple of spoons of the paste into a cup of thick yogurt.
Serve with chips,crackers or like I did, with Sambousek!
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Recipe sourced and adapted from The Kitchn.

Muhammara – a Red Pepper and Walnut Dip

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Muhammara, pronounced as moo-hum-mara, is a rich flavoured dip made with walnuts and roasted red pepper. It has a beautiful earthy flavour with a hint of sweetness from the pomegranate molasses and a hit of heat from the paparika and the red chilli powder that go into it. The name actually comes from the red colour of the dip. Muhammara translates to ‘red/reddened’
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Muhammara, along with hummus and Baba Ghanoush, is essentially a part of the Middle Eastern/Mediterranean Mezze platter. It is delicious as a sandwich spread too! And an excellent way to feed walnuts to the oh- so-fussy teenagers and kids 😀
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You need
A large red pepper/red capsicum, charred on an open flame (alternatively char it under a hot grill)
½ cup of walnuts, chopped coarse
1 small green chilli, chopped fine
A very small onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp Pomegranate Molasses (can use 2 Tbsp pomegranate juice and ½ tsp sugar instead, but the molasses really add to the depth of the flavour)
2 Tbsp toasted bread crumbs (Toast the bread slices, cool and run them in the blender)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp paparika
½ tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp salt (add more if needed)
1 Tbsp olive oil
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Char the red pepper over an open flame or grill till the peel has black spots.
Peel and cube.
Put all the ingredients into the mixer and blend into a paste. It should not be too fine. A somewhat grainy consistency is what we are looking at. Check and adjust salt or sweetness if needed.
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Serve with nachos, chips, pita fingers or falafels,decorated a sprig of parsley and a tomato or radish rose.
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Recipe adapted from Mama’s Lebanese Kitchen with minor changes. An excellent blog for Lebanese/ Middle Easter  delights.
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