If you are a woman, or if you’ve ever been one, you likely don’t remember that last time you ordered a regular muffin, a brioche, or stared at the pasty whiteness of an egg white omelette, threw your arms up and shouted out to your server, “Bring me the maple scone!”

And even though Beyonce says that women “run this motha’,” that we are “smart enough to make these millions” and “strong enough to bare the children and then get back to business,” the reality for most women is that we often do so at the expense of much culinary enjoyment just to look a little less fat naked. And even if we (read: genetically thin women who have never worried about their weight anyway) do allow ourselves a little indulgence now and then, the monotony of healthy eating can sometimes feel like a tired relationship.

But whether man or woman, there are days, weeks or even entire eras when our lives and diet stagnate. Perhaps you’ve spent thousands of $$$$ on a lofty degree from a fancy school, you’ve traveled the world and you’ve “stayed on track,” but you still can’t land more than an unpaid internship at Costco. And certainly there are times when we have all coveted a tiny space in our daydreams to imagine a different life. And this is where today’s post comes in. Everyone! We must live! And Tunisian Harissa (pronounced: huh-ree-suh) will help us do so.

Harissa is a Tunisian chili paste used commonly with meats, fish, vegetables or as a couscous flavoring. But this Harissa recipe will transform your food in many of the ways you wish you could transform your life. While it won’t make your husband stop leaving tea bags around the house and it definitely won’t pick the kids up from school, it will surely inject some fire into the monotony of your daily routines while also giving you a taste of how people eat in the Middle East and North Africa right from your own kitchen. Plus, spicy food (though this isn’t over-the-top spicy) boosts your metabolism!

So, don’t shave your head, don’t curse your Polish fat-storing genes, and don’t feel bad if you haven’t had that sinful, decidedly shameful tryst yet. If you want to shake things up a bit, just spread some harissa on bread, tablespoon it into your next chicken or fish dish, and stash away that $1500 you were saving to travel and enjoy this simple transport to a faraway land.

Recipe adapted from here

What you need:

3 dried hot red pepper

12 dried sweet red pepper

10 tsp garlic; minced

6-8 tblsp olive oil

2 1/2-3 tsp cumin

1 tblsp salt

juice of two lemons

Variations include caraway, coriander and cumin seed.

How to do it:

Soak the peppers in water for 30 minutes. Cut off the stems. Grind peppers and garlic with a mortar and pestle or give it a few whizzes in the food processor. It shouldn’t become a liquid but also shouldn’t be massively chunky. It should look like a spread or thick sauce. Stir in the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and cumin. Taste and adjust seasonings. It will look like a lot of oil at first, but while it sits in the fridge it will help the dip get darker and darker in color. Store in a tightly lidded jar in the fridge. Enjoy!

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4 thoughts on “Tunisian Harissa—حريصا

  1. Amira says:

    1) You are amazingly hilarious 2) I have been begging my tunisian uncle for this recipe for a very long time. This is huge.

  2. Wow, so happy I could help you with this and you could help me with the amba. Very sweet trade!

  3. Donia says:

    A very lovely recipe. When I was in Tunisia we prepared this recipe with a slightly different method. We grilled the peppers over a flame, partially deseeded the peppers added the other ingrediences to be pounded in the mortar. The grilling gives The Harissa a slight smoked flavour.

    1. Thanks for sharing! I’d love to try it that way sometime!

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