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Simple, Delicious Harissa Paste Made at Home

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5 from 2 reviews


From Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem: A Cookbook.

I’ve made a number of small changes to the recipe, so if you’d like to view the original, find it here. Changes include: omit the caraway seed and tomato paste, use a white onion in place of a red (though a red onions will work fine), roast the peppers at 450ºF as opposed to broil.

Regarding chilies, I’ve used both Fresnos, as pictured here, and habaneros. Once when I made this, I seeded the peppers, and the resulting harissa tasted good but there was no heat to it. So now, I leave the hot chilies mostly with their seeds and membranes intact. It’s really hard to know how hot the harissa is going to be till the very end because chilies, even of the same variety, vary in their heat level. Tasting one raw beforehand will give you a sense, but it’s still hard to know exactly until the harissa is completely puréed. If you find your harissa to be incredibly spicy, you can either just use less of it in your recipes; or you could roast some more bell peppers, peel them, and purée them with your batch of harissa.


  • 2 red bell peppers, halved, cored, and seeded
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus more to taste
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped, to yield 1 to 2 cups
  • 3 to 5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 3 hot red chiles, coarsely chopped, see notes
  • 2 to 4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Place the peppers on sheetpan lined with parchment paper. Roast until nicely charred nearly all around, 20-25 minutes. Transfer peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a cloth bowl cover, and allow to cool. Peel the pepper and discard its skin.
  2. Place a small, dry frying pan over medium heat and toast the coriander and cumin seeds until they begin to darken and smell fragrant. Transfer them to a mortar and use a pestle to grind to a powder.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, and fry the onion, garlic, and chiles for 10 to 12 minutes, until they begin to caramelize.
  4. Use a blender or a food processor to blitz together all of the ingredients until smooth, adding a little more oil if needed. I usually add another tablespoon. Taste. Adjust with more salt, lemon, or oil to taste.
  5. Store in a sterilized jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or even longer.
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Oven/Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern/North African