Tunisian Chili Paste (Harissa)

Harissa is a spicy hot pepper paste made with roasted chili peppers and garlic. The word “harissa” comes from the Arabic “harasa” which means to crush or pound. Although harissa originated in Tunisia, it has caught on in the rest of the Maghreb (Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and Egypt) as well as parts of the Middle East. Each country and region has their own version of the spicy paste where it is added to all kinds of fish and chicken dishes to add a distinct spicy flavor.

Moroccan Harissa

Harissa- Tunisian Chili Paste

Harissa is easy to make and even easier to buy. Its is a spicy addition to many dishes throughout North Africa, and can be used to spice up grilled meats and dips. Moroccans add preserved lemon to their harissa, which is a nice flavor addition.
5 from 2 votes
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Course: Condiment, Dip, Sauce, Spice Mix
Cuisine: African, North Africa, Tunisia
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Soaking: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 1 cups
Author: My Hungry Traveler


  • Medium bowl
  • Food Processor or blender


  • 7 large Guajillo or New Mexico chili peppers (Sub: combination of New Mexico chilis and de arbol or chipotle chilis)
  • 6 oz Jarred roasted red peppers
  • 2 tbsp Tomato paste
  • 5 large Garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp Ground coriander
  • 2 tsp Ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Smoked or sweet paprika
  • 2 tbsp Lemon juice (Sub: chopped preserved lemons)
  • 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste


  • Prep Peppers – Cover dried chilis with boiling water in a bowl. Soak chilis for 30 minutes until they become soft. Drain chilis and cut off stem and seeds. Drain, rinse, and dry roasted red peppers.
  • Make Harissa Paste – Transfer rehydrated chilis and roasted red peppers to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add all remaining ingredient, except the olive oil. Process everything and with the motor running, drizzle oil in. Scrape down sides of the bowl occasionally. Process until it becomes a paste. Taste and adjust salt.
  • Store – Harissa develops a deeper flavor after 2 days in the refrigerator covered in a thin layer of olive oil and stored in a airtight container or jar. Harissa will last for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator and be frozen for a month or two.


Calories: 236kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Sodium: 1728mg | Potassium: 504mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 950IU | Vitamin C: 61mg | Calcium: 116mg | Iron: 4mg

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