Harissa Paste and Harissa Yogurt Dipping Sauce

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.
Harissa 3

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.
Remove the seeds.
Dry roast the caraway, coriander and cumin. Let cool.
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.
Store covered with a thin layer of olive oil.
Harissa with nama
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!

Recipe sourced and adapted from The Kitchn.

Muhammara – a Red Pepper and Walnut Dip


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’
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 😀
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
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.

Serve with nachos, chips, pita fingers or falafels,decorated a sprig of parsley and a tomato or radish rose.

Recipe adapted from Mama’s Lebanese Kitchen with minor changes. An excellent blog for Lebanese/ Middle Easter  delights.