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Harissa, the ingredient essential to Tunisian cuisine

October 5, 2009 |  6:02 am


We recently wrote about Tunisian food, specifically about the way Tunisian Jews might celebrate Rosh Hashanah. An essential ingredient in Tunisian food, and one mentioned in the story, was harissa. A reader wrote to ask about it.

Harissa is a sauce based on chiles, hot but not searing. There are many varieties, but many have garlic, salt and oil. It can be used as is on a sandwich or stirred into soups, spread on chicken or as a marinade. It goes into Tunisian couscous.

Many gourmet markets and cooking shops sell it, often in tubes. You can find recipes for it in Middle Eastern cookbooks.

-- Mary MacVean

Photo: Alain Cohen, left, makes harissa for his shop, Got Kosher? Provisions on Pico Boulevard.

Credit: Christina House / For The Times