Palestinian Harissa Recipe

Harissa is a versatile and flavorful chili pepper paste commonly used in Palestinian and Middle Eastern cuisine. It can be used as a condiment, marinade, or as an ingredient in various dishes. Here’s a traditional Palestinian harissa recipe:

Palestinian harissa recipe


  • 1 cup dried red chili peppers (a mix of mild and hot varieties)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for sealing
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
  • Juice of 1 lemon


1. Preparing the Chili Peppers:

  • Deseeding the Chilies:
    • Wear gloves to protect your hands.
    • Cut the stems off the chili peppers, then split them open and remove the seeds.
    • Discard the seeds or save them for a spicier harissa.
  • Soaking the Chilies:
    • Place the deseeded chilies in a bowl.
    • Pour hot water over the chilies, ensuring they are fully submerged.
    • Let them soak for at least 30 minutes or until they become pliable.

2. Toasting the Seeds:

  • In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the cumin seeds and coriander seeds until fragrant. Be careful not to burn them.
  • Allow the toasted seeds to cool.

3. Blending the Harissa:

  • Drain the soaked chili peppers, reserving a bit of the soaking liquid.
  • In a food processor, combine the soaked chilies, toasted cumin seeds, toasted coriander seeds, peeled garlic cloves, salt, and olive oil.
  • Blend the mixture until it forms a smooth paste. Add a bit of the reserved soaking liquid if needed to achieve the desired consistency.

4. Adjusting Flavor:

  • Taste the harissa and adjust the salt and spiciness according to your preference.
  • Optionally, add tomato paste for depth of flavor.

5. Finishing Touch:

  • Add the juice of one lemon to the harissa and blend again to combine.

6. Storing:

  • Transfer the harissa to a clean, airtight jar.
  • Pour a thin layer of olive oil on top to help preserve it.
  • Seal the jar and store the harissa in the refrigerator. It can last for several weeks.

7. Using Harissa:

  • Use the harissa as a condiment for grilled meats, roasted vegetables, or as a dipping sauce.
  • Add it to stews, soups, or marinades for an extra kick of flavor.

Enjoy your homemade Palestinian harissa! Adjust the spice level and ingredients to suit your taste preferences.

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