Crafting Spicy Harissa: DIY Hot Chili Pepper Paste


Spice Up Your Dishes with Harissa: Elevate your cooking by making your own spice mixes and harissa at home. From toasting for enhanced aroma, to adjusting heat of your sauce, Chef Jayson guides you through each step, empowering you to create your own culinary story at home.


0:00 Peppers and spice
1:40 All the ingredients
2:22 They see me Grindin’
3:40 We crushin’
4:05 Mixin’ in a spicy fury
5:02 We Blendin’ & We Tastin’
6:37 Now you got Harissa in a hurry
7:29 Peppers Dryin’
8:01 Heat Controlin’
8:35 And the next Spice be Sri Lankan Curry


Chef Jayson (00:00):

All right, welcome back to the kitchen. Today we’re making spice mixes. We’re gonna do my personal favorite harissa. So what I want to show you today, and I want to do a series of these, I have this really awesome book. It is called the Burns Philip Book of Spices by Jill Norman. And it’s pretty basic. It is coriander, caraway seed, mint, cummin, and a pepper base. It is spicy. Now, you could do this exact same mixture and use like red bell peppers. If you’re not a spicy fan, you could just use red bell peppers or red sweet bell peppers, and kind of achieve the same flavor. Fresh red peppers. We just went and pulled these from the garden. This is an ounce of peppers. The recipe calls for two ounces, so we’re gonna split this in half ’cause I actually already have a jar of harissa in, been going through it pretty fast. But I don’t need a double batch. I have some Tabasco peppers back here too. So we’re gonna measure out our ingredients. If you’ve got a spice grinder, throw ’em in a spice grinder. If you’ve got a mortar and pestle or a molcajete, you can use that too.

Chef Jayson (01:10):

So I’m just gonna dump ’em into my grinder here. Two teaspoons of coriander. So that half recipe would be one teaspoon. There’s one careway seed, one teaspoon. So half a teaspoon. Oh, here we go. Cummin seed. Cumin, we are gonna do one and a half teaspoons. So we’ll do a half and then a half a half. There you go. And then interesting dried mint. I mean, mint is pretty prevalent in a lot of African dishes. A lot of Middle Eastern dishes. This is mint that we harvested here from the farm. We also got the coriander here from the farm, coriander seed and the, the peppers. So we’re looking at about 60% farm right now, which I really like. So one teaspoon crushed, dried mint leaves. So half a teaspoon. Let’s see if I can get something besides sticks. There we go. Half a teaspoon. I’m gonna put in a little bit of salt and then grind it up.

Chef Jayson (02:22):

Whenever I do, when I grind, especially like peppercorns round stuff, you gotta smash it first just to break it up so it doesn’t go flying everywhere. And as it gets a little finer, you can move a little faster. Smells amazing. You know, when you crush these up, these spices up it releases a lot of the oils. Toasting your spices, helps bring out the aroma, the flavor, the oil that’s in there. And you don’t even have to toast it for that long. I’m actually kind of mad at myself that I didn’t. It’s like 30 seconds, maybe 30 seconds in the pan. You swizzle ’em back and forth. And then go to this part. And I, I’m telling you, it’ll be five times more aromatic and fragrant.

Chef Jayson (03:40):

Spices are crushed. I use my little pastry brush. We’ll get those, just kind of, you see how much spice that is. Pretty cool. Just dump these into our food processor and we’re just gonna give it a few pulses. This is, again, one ounce is about 30 grams of red peppers. I’m gonna toss those in.

Chef Jayson (04:05):

Looks good. All right. I’m gonna throw in my garlic and my spices. Woo, that Stings the nostrils. And then what we’re going to do next is start adding our olive oil. The boss brought this olive oil back from Italy. But the guy that she went and visited out there, he has a farm. He has his own olive trees. They pretty much produce everything that they do from the farm, which is really neat. They have like a, something like a five, 600 year old flower mill there. I mean, it’s pretty impressive.

Chef Jayson (05:02):

All right, now you can see it’s starting to break down a little bit more. Now you were probably wondering like, why does this dude have ice out? So when you’re making hummus, one of the tricks to make it really light and fluffy and smooth is to add ice cubes to it. So check this out. ’cause what ice cubes do is it breaks down, it actually aerates and helps brighten even the color of the dish.

Chef Jayson (05:59):

All right. Now usually harissa is a lot deeper red than this. I think. Adding a little extra garlic kind of made it lighter. But we’re gonna keep this blended and I’ll actually show you the difference between dried chilies and fresh chilies. Now, there’s a couple ways that we can make this brighter. One of those is we could add saffron to it. That’ll definitely make it red. We could add some turmeric to it. That would definitely make it red. I think I’m just gonna add a little bit of saffron, ’cause I have some on hand.

Chef Jayson (06:37):

The color is better than it was, I think. There you go. It is a lot thinner. I can add this to soups. Like I said, I can spread this on a sandwich. Yeah, it’s great. It’s nice and spicy. The flavor, it’s pretty much the exact same as this. So this is the batch that I made with dried peppers. And now that I’ve done it with both, I think I prefer the dried peppers. What do you think? That color, you can see that, that’s pretty cool. And I just made this, you know, last week.

Chef Jayson (07:29):

Fresh peppers, when they are dried, they have different names. So like a dried jalapeno isn’t a dried jalapeno. Or a dried serrano, I think is a Chile de árbol. Kind of blew my mind. Like, oh, now we have to learn another set of names for the same thing, even if it’s dried. But there’s a lot of food like that. Processed it one way and then it becomes a different name. Somebody first said aubergene to me. I was like, what in the hell is that? It’s just French for eggplant. Don’t let ’em confuse you, <laugh>.

Chef Jayson (08:01):

Anyway I’m really excited to use this. It’s really good in omelets. Like I did an omelet yesterday, a little bit of sauteed veg, and right at the end I added a tablespoon of this and then used it as a filling for for an omelet. And it was fantastic. And you can actually kind of control the level of heat by taking the seeds out, the dried peppers. It’s much easier to remove them. ’cause All you gotta do is break it. Check that out. Now you got a little bit of spice. So if you take the seeds out, you can kind of control the level of heat. So there you go.

Chef Jayson (08:35):

Like I said, again, thank you for joining us. I hope you learned something. I’m excited for the next spice mix. I think we’re gonna do, let’s just pick one. Hold on. Oh, Sri Lankan Curry Powder. All right. Get, get ready for that, Jason. I’m talking to myself, I guess. So next time you see us, we’re gonna be making Sri Lankan Curry Powder. See you next time.




Norman, Jill. 1990. The Burns Philp Book of Spices. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited.

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