Harissa is a Tunisian spicy paste made of smoked chili peppers, garlic, olive oil, and may include cilantro, cumin, mint, caraway seeds, tomatoes or rose petals. The ingredients are pounded into a paste and set aside to develop its flavors for more than 12 hours. The various ingredients give it a complex flavor that most other hot sauces don’t have.
Harissa is used liberally in Tunisia in stews, couscous, soups, added to vinaigrette for salads, and mixed with olive oil as a dipping sauce for bread.
The name harissa is from an Arabic word meaning “to pound” or “break into pieces.” The hot paste is also enjoyed in Libya, Morocco, Algeria, and France.