What is Harissa and Why is it so Delicious?

I’m on a serious hummus kick at the moment. I blame my cousin, Suzy, because she got me started on this hummus kick and because she is the queen of hummus. (Literally, THE QUEEN, because she will make hummus out of almost anything!)

What makes it so special? I think it’s the Harissa. Harissa is a hot chili paste, made primarily from the Maghrebian pepper. It usually also contains roasted red peppers and Serrano peppers along with garlic, coriander, caraway and olive oil.

Harissa is most closely associated with Libya and Tunisia, but is also favored in Moroccan and even Israeli cooking. It is generally used to flavor meats, fish or couscous, but it can also be used as a condiment on dishes such as shawarma. It is even used to flavor soups and stews.

Unlike Americans, who don’t generally consume spicy foods at a young age, those living in places like Tunisia eat Harissa early on, so they are accustomed to the extreme heat of Harissa. If you haven’t ever eaten Harissa, you may want to prepare yourself… it’s very hot. But in a good way, if you know what I mean.

I like it best in hummus with a traditional flatbread such as a fresh pita or some lavash. But it’s also great with cut up veggies or on a sandwich. You might also like a few of these Irresistibly Healthy Ways To Enjoy Hummus.

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