I recently learned how to make ‘Harissa’ paste and I am in love with it! Harissa is a spicy and flavorful paste made out of red chillies,garlic,cumin,mint and other ingredients that is commonly used in North African cooking, mainly Moroccan, Algerian, and Tunisian cuisine. I made this paste using a recipe I found in the book, ‘The African Kitchen’ by Josie Stow. Looking at the recipe for this paste, I immediately felt that I should try cooking shrimp using this. And so that’s the first thing I tried after i had made my own ‘Harissa’…it smells so aromatic (with the caraway seeds and the mint) that I feel like adding this to anything and everything I make. I am sure it will be great for marinating and grilling vegetables as well and I cannot wait to try it!
So here’s the recipe for the Harissa paste. You can obviously alter the proportions of some of the ingredients per your taste. I reduced the amount of red chillies from the original recipe and also used a combination of mint and cilantro instead of just mint. The other great thing about using Harissa in your recipes is that you can always choose how much of it you want to add. It just gives this great burst of flavor instantly to a dish so I really think making this paste and stocking it in your pantry is a very useful thing to do. This paste can last for up to a year if an adequate amount of oil is added.
Recipe for Harissa This recipe makes about 3/4 th cup of paste Ingredients: 6 long dry red chillies (I used hot kashmiri chillies) 2 tsp caraway seeds (ajwain) 1 tsp coriander seeds 1 tsp cumin seeds 4 large cloves of garlic 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves,chopped 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped 1/2 cup olive oil 1 tsp salt
In a food processor, add the dry spices – cumin,coriander seeds,caraway seeds and red chillies and grind to a powder.
Transfer to a container and add the rest of the oil and the salt and mix well. Store in a dry, airtight container in a cool, dry place. (There should be a thick layer of oil above the paste)
Now the shrimp recipe !
Very simple – just marinated the shrimp in Harissa and olive oil and grilled them!
Fresh uncooked shrimp, deshelled and de-veined, about 1 lb, 35-40 pieces
1 tbsp Harissa paste plus 1 tbsp olive oil to create a marinade.
Marinate the shrimp pieces in it and place them in skewers and in the oven at Broil for about 5 minutes. (I also pan fried a few of them in a shallow frying pan and both taste great).
Hmm…cannot express how tasty the shrimp turned out and that too hardly any effort once you have this paste made.! Serve the shrimp as soon as they are grilled !