Makes 1 1/2 cups
Adapted from Libyan Food
Libyan Harissa is a spicy chile paste, seasoned with coriander, cumin, and caraway. Harissa makes an excellent sandwich spread or table condiment, and can be stirred into soups and stews for a last minute flavor boost. Libyan Food says, “It is used in cooking, in dips and marinades. In Libya, harissa mixed with tuna is a popular sandwich filling.” The heat in chiles varies greatly, even within the same variety; you must taste to determine how hot your chiles are. If chiles are too hot for you, remove seeds and veins. Harissa is intended to be spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. Although chiles may be chopped by hand (remember to wear gloves, or wash your hands thoroughly when done), it’s much faster to chop them in a food processor. Covering the Harissa with a thin layer of olive oil helps preserve it by keeping air away from the chile paste. Harissa keeps about a month in the refrigerator.
2 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. caraway seeds
2 cups finely chopped red Fresno chiles, or other spicy red chiles (about 18 chiles)
3 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 tsp. kosher or coarse salt (or 1 tsp. fine grain salt)
2 tsp. tomato paste
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
In cast iron or other heavy skillet, toast coriander, cumin, and caraway seeds until they’re aromatic and just barely starting to darken. Put toasted seeds in saucepan with chiles, garlic, salt, and tomato paste, and stir well to combine. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
While chiles are cooking, boil carrot until very tender. Drain and reserve carrot.
When chiles are done, scrape into blender along with boiled carrot and puree until smooth. Use immediately or spoon into clean glass jar to store. Cover Harissa in jar with thin layer of olive oil.