Are you a fan of spicy and flavorful food? If so, you may have heard of harissa paste.
This hot chili pepper paste originated from Tunisia and is a combination of roasted red peppers, spices, herbs, and olive oil. It’s a versatile condiment that can be used as a marinade, sauce, or condiment to add a little heat and flavor to your dishes.
But where can you find it in the grocery store? In this article, we’ll explore what aisle harissa paste is typically found in and provide some tips on how to make it at home.
So let’s dive in and discover the world of harissa paste!
What Aisle Is Harissa Paste In?
If you’re looking to buy harissa paste in a grocery store, the easiest place to find it is in the international aisle. Check the shelves with Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, or North African products. If you’re not finding it there, look in the aisle with hot sauces. This is usually the condiment aisle. Just make sure you’re getting harissa paste (or “hot sauce”) and not a different type of sauce made with harissa.
If you’re still not seeing it anywhere, don’t worry! Some stores may carry it in different aisles. You can always ask a store employee for assistance in finding it.
The Origins Of Harissa Paste
Harissa paste is a fiery and aromatic condiment that originates from North Africa. Specifically, it is most closely associated with the Maghreb region, which includes modern-day Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and Libya. The name “harissa” comes from the Arabic verb “harasa,” meaning “to pound” or “break into pieces.” It is thought to have originated in Tunisia, where shoppers in spice souks would watch it being pounded out while they waited.
The simplest versions of harissa paste are made with just three ingredients: chillies, salt, and olive oil. However, there are many variations of the recipe, with different regions and households adding their own unique blend of spices. The traditional harissa paste found in homes is called “harissa diari” or “arbi,” which is made from ground sun-dried chilis, garlic, and salt. The classic version, also known as “harissa nablia,” calls for coriander and caraway in proportions that vary based on personal taste.
To make harissa diari, peppers are harvested right after they turn red during the summer. They are then consecutively punctured from the top with a string, tied together in bunches, and left to hang and dry in the sunlight for several months. This sun-drying process results in significant flavor development of the peppers, including fruity smokiness and umami notes. The dried peppers are then cleaned, de-stemmed, de-seeded, and briefly soaked in room temperature water before being ground up into a paste with peeled garlic cloves and salt. Olive oil and additional spices may be mixed into the paste afterwards to make the final product.
The Spanish occupation of Tunisia in the 16th century is thought to have begun the spread of harissa’s influence around the world. Today, it’s estimated that a quarter of the world’s population eats harissa in any single day. While every region has its own variation and take on the paste, it remains particularly associated with Tunisia.
The Flavor Profile Of Harissa Paste
Harissa paste is a spicy, smoky, and peppery chili paste that originates from Tunisia. It is commonly used in Middle Eastern and North African cooking and can add a spicy kick to just about anything, from eggs to dips to noodles to marinades to braises. The paste has a deeper flavor than just chili, with a spicy hit backed by garlic and lemon, and it can be sweet or smoky. The most common peppers used for the paste are roasted red peppers, baklouti pepper, and serrano peppers. Some versions are heavy on the garlic, while others are more generous with cumin. You’ll also find rose harissa, which has a subtle sweet and fragrant flavor from rose petals. The heat of harissa takes its time and tends to be earthier than fresh chili or flakes. Overall, the flavor profile of harissa paste is versatile and can enhance the taste of any dish it’s added to.
How To Use Harissa Paste In Your Cooking
Harissa paste is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different ways to add flavor and spice to your dishes. Here are some ideas for incorporating harissa paste into your cooking:
1. As a marinade: Harissa paste is perfect for marinating meats, seafood, or tofu. Simply coat your protein in the paste and let it sit for at least 30 minutes (or up to overnight) before cooking.
2. As a dipping sauce: Harissa paste can be used as a dip for veggies, pita bread, or crackers. If you find the heat too intense, mix the paste with some tahini or yogurt to mellow it out.
3. As a glaze: Mix harissa paste with honey to create a sweet and spicy glaze for grilled or roasted meats.
4. As a flavor enhancer for eggs: Add a tablespoon of harissa paste to your scrambled eggs or omelet for an extra kick of flavor.
5. As a veggie seasoning: Toss roasted veggies with harissa powder for an easy and flavorful side dish.
6. To flavor soups and stews: Add a few tablespoons of harissa paste to your favorite soup or stew recipe to give it some depth and complexity.
7. As a sandwich spread: Use harissa paste as a condiment on your favorite sandwich for a bold and spicy flavor.
8. Mixed into grains: Mix harissa paste into cooked couscous, quinoa, or rice for a flavorful base to your meal.
9. To add flavor to sauces: Stir some harissa paste into tomato sauce or other savory sauces for an extra burst of flavor.
Making your own harissa paste is also an option if you can’t find it in stores or want to customize the spice level and ingredients. With just a few simple ingredients like dried chilies, garlic, and spices, you can create your own personalized blend of harissa paste at home.
Where To Find Harissa Paste In The Grocery Store
Harissa paste is a delicious and versatile condiment that can be used in a variety of dishes. If you’re wondering where to find it in the grocery store, there are a few places to check.
First, head to the international aisle. Look for shelves with Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, or North African products. Harissa paste is a staple in these cuisines, so it’s likely you’ll find it here.
If you don’t see it in the international aisle, try checking the hot sauce section. This is usually located in the condiment aisle. Just be sure to look for harissa paste specifically, as there may be other sauces made with harissa that are not what you’re looking for.
If you’ve checked both of these areas and still can’t find harissa paste, don’t give up just yet. Some stores may carry it in different aisles, so it’s always worth asking a store employee for assistance.
Alternatively, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can make your own harissa paste at home! All you need is a small food processor and a few simple ingredients. Not only will this save you the hassle of searching for it in the store, but you’ll also have the satisfaction of making it from scratch. Plus, homemade harissa can be customized to your personal taste preferences.
Making Harissa Paste At Home: A Step-by-Step Guide
Making harissa paste at home is a great alternative to buying it in a store. It’s quick, easy, and allows you to customize the flavors to your liking. Follow these steps to make your own harissa paste:
1. Soak the dried chiles: Place the dried chiles in a heat-safe bowl and cover with hot water. Let them soak for 30 minutes until they are tender and rehydrated.
2. Remove stems and seeds: Once the chiles are rehydrated, drain them and remove the stems and seeds.
3. Combine ingredients: Add the chiles to a large food processor along with tomato paste, roasted red peppers, garlic, ground caraway seeds, coriander, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne (if using), and a pinch of kosher salt. Add fresh lemon juice.
4. Make the paste: Run the food processor and drizzle in extra virgin olive oil from the top opening while it’s running. Stop to scrape down the sides and run again until you reach a desired paste-like texture.
5. Adjust seasonings: Taste the harissa paste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Remember that it will deepen in flavor as it sits in the fridge over the next day or two.
6. Store: Transfer the harissa paste to a clean mason jar. Cover with a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil, then cover the jar with its lid tightly and refrigerate.
Making harissa paste at home is a great way to add some heat and flavor to your dishes. Use it on veggies, fish, meats, or as a dressing or sauce. Experiment with different spices and chiles to find your perfect blend.
Tips For Storing And Using Harissa Paste
Harissa paste is a versatile ingredient that can add a spicy and flavorful kick to a variety of dishes. Here are some tips for storing and using harissa paste:
1. Refrigerate after opening: Once you’ve opened a jar or made your own harissa paste, it’s best to store it in the refrigerator. This will help to preserve the flavors and prevent spoilage. Harissa paste can last for up to a couple of weeks in the fridge.
2. Use as a marinade: Harissa paste makes an excellent marinade for meat, fish, or vegetables. Simply coat your chosen food with the paste and let it sit for a few hours (or overnight) before cooking.
3. Add to sauces and dips: Harissa paste can also be used to add flavor to sauces, dips, and dressings. Mix it with yogurt or sour cream for a delicious dip, or stir it into tomato sauce for a spicy pasta dish.
4. Make your own: If you can’t find harissa paste in your local grocery store, don’t worry! It’s easy to make your own at home using dried chilies, spices, and olive oil. You can adjust the heat level and flavor to your liking.
5. Experiment with different recipes: Harissa paste is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different ways. Try adding it to soups, stews, or even scrambled eggs for an extra kick of flavor.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to store and use harissa paste like a pro!