A few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine who has one of those jobs that has her in a different country every few weeks, told me she had a gift for me and the package would be dropped off at my house one night. When the package was delivered, it was a pretty la bag of Harissa from Tunisia in a cooling bag. My screams and leaps in the air had the Mr wondering if I got jewelry in the bag (my weakness).
Harissa is a uniquely Tunisian condiment paste that usually contains different kinds of peppers, spices like garlic, caraway seeds, coriander seeds and some kind of oil for preservation. Every spice merchant and family has their version of Harissa that is made and sold and this means they have people loyal to them who choose to patronize them only. I have seen versions with more exotic ingredients like rose petals and version as basic as peppers and garlic only. While it is traditionally Tunisian. Harissa can now be found in other Northern African countries now.
I use Harissa in everything from jollof rice dishes to savoury mixed meat stews. However, my favorite way to use Harissa is as the base of a delicious marinade that can be used on any type of meat, seafood, poultry, vegetables and even on potatoes. The beauty of this marinade is that all ingredients go into a blender and any extra marinade can be stored in the freezer for weeks with constant power supply.
To make approximately 1 cup of marinade, you will need:
- 1/2 cup Harissa paste
- 2 cloves peeled garlic
- I red onion – rough chopped
- 1 yellow scotch bonnet pepper
- 1 dried bay leaf
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
- Add all the ingredients into a blender and process till smooth. Taste and add salt if needed
- Coat raw food of your choice with the marinade and grill or bake till cooked.