Harissa Paste Recipe

Ready to spice up your kitchen? Move over boring salsa and ketchup! This red raven condiment is sure to make your taste buds pop. I usually make a batch and keep it in the fridge, although it never lasts longer than a few weeks.  I add it to my homemade hummus, roasted veggies, chicken, pork, rice dishes and everything in between.

This lovely Tunisan chili paste is so versatile. I came across a recipe about a year ago that called for it, and knowing that it wasn’t at my local grocery store, I knew I wanted to learn how to make it. Each paste will be different, some are made with roasted red peppers (like the one I made last year), some with tomatoes, some with chilies and some with a combo of all three. So you will get something a little different with each one you buy. Today I decided to make one with JUST chilies. We are having friends over for dinner tonight and I am making baked chicken with harissa chickpeas and leeks. I’ll use 1/4c of the harissa in the recipe, which will give it a little bit of a kick, but not blow off your lips hot :).

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Ingredients
4 ounces dried chiles of your choice (see Recipe Notes)
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for storing
Optional additions: fresh lemon juice, preserved lemon, fresh or dried mint, fresh cilantro, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, cayenne, paprika

Equipment
Heatproof bowl for soaking chiles
Skillet for toasting spices
Spice grinder, coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle for grinding spices
Food processor or mortar and pestle for mixing paste
Airtight jar for storage

Instructions

  1. Soften the chiles. Place the chiles in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. You can usually de-seed and de-stem the chilies prior to putting them in the bowl. or the stems fall easily off after soaking. If there are seeds left in them, let them fall to the bottom of the bowl and just fish out the soaked chilie. No need to de-seed and de-vein the chilies if you don’t have time.  Let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Toast the spices. While the chiles are soaking, toast the caraway, coriander, and cumin in a dry skillet over low-medium heat, occasionally shaking or stirring to prevent burning. When the spices are fragrant, remove them from the pan.
  3. Grind the spices. Grind the spices in a mortar and pestle, spice grinder, or coffee grinder. I used my magic bullet and it worked like a charm. My food processor was too big for such a small amount of spices.
  4. Drain the chiles, reserving the liquid for step 6.
  5. Combine the chiles with spices, garlic, and salt. Combine the chiles, ground spices, garlic, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. (You can also use a mortar and pestle or your handy magic bullet.)
  6. Make a paste.

    With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and process to form a smooth and thick paste. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. If a thinner paste is desired, blend in a little of the chile soaking liquid until the paste has reached your desired texture. I added 1 tbsp of the chile liquid with 1 tbsp of olive oil at a time into my magic bullet. It was a little slow to come together but I just had to keep shaking it around until it mixed.

  7. Taste and adjust seasonings. The flavor of the harissa will deepen over the next day or two, but you can taste it now and add more salt or other optional ingredients to your liking. The raw garlic will really come through when you smell it, and will soften up a bit over the next few days.
  8. Top with olive oil and store. Transfer the harissa to a jar and cover the surface with a thin layer of olive oil. Cover the jar and refrigerate for up to a month, adding a fresh layer of olive oil on the top each time you use the harissa.

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Post Series: Health Benefits of Sprouting Fenugreek Seeds

I am new to sprouting, and so far have been LOVING it! This past weekend, I have started sprouting alfalfa and fenugreek.  Oriental mustard is on it’s 2nd day (needs another day or two), and at this very moment I am soaking green kale seeds.  Since I’ve started, we’ve been able to enjoy sprouts in salads every day. I’m THRILLED! Not only are they incredibly tasty and quick to produce – the health benefits are crazy yo! You can read about some of the benefits in my last post, here.  (Scroll to the bottom to see photos of the fenugreek seeds in sprouting action!)

I thought I’d start a series of posts, detailing what I’m sprouting, showing pictures and the health benefits of each seed. Many of you probably didn’t know that you can sprout pretty much any grain or seed. The main thing you want to ensure though, is that is is organic and non-GMO. You can read about non-GMO here.

So what about the health benefits? Sprouts are much more nutritious than the dormant seed or bean from which they spring from. By “awakening” these seeds, we are actually eating all of the live potential energy of the sprout.

Because of the higher water content in sprouts as opposed to dry seeds and beans, we find a higher nutritional content. Sprouts contain absorb-able protein, and contain increased calcium, potassium, sodium, iron, as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and C.

Even though alfalfa was the first seed I sprouted, I don’t feel the need to write about it because we’re all probably familiar with it. It’s so common in grocery stores and health food places, I thought I’d go off the beaten path and spark your interest in something different. Want to learn more? Read on my friends!

I was intrigued by this seed because I recently started using the leaves in recipes. It’s a very potent smelling leaf, and the spice fenugreek, also called methi and menthulu, are the small, hard, yellowish brown, angular, protein-rich seeds harvested from the pods of the plant. The seeds have a bittersweet taste and are highly aromatic once ground. Because of those qualities, fenugreek has become a key ingredient in curry powder. Fenugreek seeds are also used in other spice blends, fish and vegetables dishes, dahl, breads, stews and preserves, such as pickles and chutneys.

Like cilantro, fenugreek is a plant whose leaves and seeds can be used in all sorts of ways. It is native to India and southern Europe, and for centuries has grown wild in those and other places. It’s also one of the oldest cultivated plants known to humans and, according to the Complete Spice Book, has been grown in the Nile Valley since 1000 BC.  If you buy the dried leaves for cooking, make sure you have it wrapped up tightly in a Ziploc or in a glass jar to avoid having your kitchen cupboard smelling like it. It will overpower other spices in your cupboards. Despite fenugreeks many uses, you are unlikely to find it at any mainstream grocery store. If you’re wanting to use the leaves, try a local Indian grocery store.

So, back to sprouting and the benefits of fenugreek. If you’re looking to sprout the seeds, I suggest buying organic, non-gmo seeds from Mumms or another online seed sprouting company. Do your research because organic non-gmo seeds are DEFINITELY the way to go.

Fenugreek is one of the oldest recorded medicinal herbs, highly esteemed by both east and west, and has been regarded as a treatment for just about every ailment known to man. Fenugreek has a beneficial action on cleansing the blood.

What are the benefit of these super cool seeds/sprouts?

  • Did you know that fenugreek is regarded as a sister herb to garlic? A traditional herb for colds and flu, fenugreek has the same properties. It is also attributed with being a blood cleanser and a lymphatic cleanser.
  • Another attribute of fenugreek is it’s apparent capacity to create a protective coating over inflamed areas of the stomach and bowel including peptic ulcers. Fenugreek is a practical herb for all mucus conditions of the body, particularly the lungs, by helping to clear congestion. It is a powerful antioxidant and it acts as a mucus solvent and throat cleanser, which also eases the urge to cough. Even drinking the water that seeds have soaked in and been rinsed with, helps to soften and dissolve, accumulated and hardened masses of cellular debris. Use fenugreek for head colds, influenza, catarrh, constipation, bronchial complaints, asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, pleurisy, tuberculosis, sore throat, laryngitis, hay fever and sinusitis.
  • Fenugreek has also been noted as increasing breast milk production in nursing mothers. On the other hand, pregnant women should not ingest fenugreek.
  • Fenugreek has had the reputation for enhancing libido. No wonder it has been called an aphrodisiac. I smiled, when I read in a herbal book, ‘Fenugreek, for making an old man into a young man’!. Some men use fenugreek for herniaerectile dysfunction (ED), and other male problems.
  • Fenugreek appears to slow absorption of sugars in the stomach and stimulate insulin. Both of these effects lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.
  • As a diaphoretic it is able to bring on a sweat and to help detox the body. This takes place through the pores of the skin. The pungent aroma of fenugreek may be smelt on the skin and in under-arm perspiration. This is evidence that the herb is working well: shower frequently! The body odour of fenugreek is nowhere near as offensive as a body reeking of garlic. After using the sprouts for a while, this fenugreek body aroma, does not seem to be so apparent, maybe, the sprouts have done a pretty good cleanse.
  • Fenugreek seeds are rich source of minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients. 100 g seeds provide 323 calories.
  • The seeds are a very good source of soluble dietary fiber. Soaking the seeds in water makes their outer coat soft and mucilaginous. 100 g of seeds provide 24.6 g or over 65% of dietary fiber.
  • This prized spice is an excellent source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc, manganese, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure by countering action on sodium. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome-oxidases enzyme.
Raw hard seeds, right out of the package.

Raw hard seeds, right out of the package.

How much to seed to sprout?

  • I used 1/4 for the tray, and 1-2 tbsp for the jar method. You don’t want to over pack the jar because the seeds won’t aerate properly and become mushy and rot. Not good peeps. Keep enough room in the jar or a spread out layer in the try to allow the seeds to do their thang. Sprouted, fenugreek grows large vigorous, crunchy sprouts with an unusual maple flavour. Quite awesome on a salad. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!
Seeds in the tray, see the tail starting?

Seeds in the tray, see the tail starting?

The final product! Yummers!

The final product! Yummers!

Storing your spouts:

  • Be sure to only store your sprouts when they are DRY. Let them air out after the last rinse before putting them in a seal-able container. You can keep them in the fridge for up to 4 days, if they last that long!
Store in an air tight container for 3-5 days

Store in an air tight container for 3-5 days