Deutsch: Harissa / Español: Harissa / Português: Harissa / Français: Harissa / Italiano: Harissa

Harissa is a spicy, aromatic chili paste widely used in North African and Middle Eastern cooking. It is made from various red peppers along with herbs and spices such as garlic, coriander, caraway, and cumin. Olive oil is often added to achieve a paste-like consistency. This condiment is a staple in the cuisines of countries like Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, and Morocco.


Harissa is celebrated for its heat and depth of flavor, which can vary from mild to very spicy depending on the type of chili peppers used. The paste's color ranges from bright red to a darker burgundy. It is typically used as a condiment or mixed into dishes to add a fiery kick and a complex flavor profile.

Apart from its culinary uses, harissa is also noted for its potential health benefits, including high levels of vitamins A and C from the chili peppers. These nutrients can help boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. The presence of capsaicin in the chilies also promotes a healthy metabolism.

Application Areas

Harissa can be used in various ways in cooking:

  • As a condiment: Often served alongside dishes like couscous, kebabs, and stews.
  • In marinades: Used to spice up meats and vegetables before grilling or roasting.
  • In stews and soups: Adds depth and heat to flavor bases.
  • In dressings and sauces: Mixed with yogurt, mayonnaise, or sour cream to create spicy, flavorful sauces.

Well-Known Examples

Harissa is incorporated into numerous dishes across North African and Middle Eastern cuisines:

Treatment and Risks

While generally safe and beneficial in moderate amounts, the spiciness of harissa can cause digestive discomfort for some people, particularly those not accustomed to spicy foods. As with any spice-heavy product, it should be consumed in moderation.


Here are a couple of simple recipes using harissa:

  • Harissa Yogurt Marinade:
    • Ingredients: 3 tbsp harissa paste, 1 cup plain yogurt, juice of one lemon, salt to taste.
    • Method: Combine all ingredients and mix well. Use as a marinade for chicken or vegetables before grilling.
  • Spicy Harissa and Tomato Soup:
    • Ingredients: 2 tbsp harissa paste, 2 cans crushed tomatoes, 1 onion, 2 cloves garlic, chicken or vegetable stock, olive oil.
    • Method: Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add harissa paste and tomatoes, cook for a few minutes. Add stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Blend until smooth if desired.

Similar Terms


Harissa is a versatile and fiery condiment essential in many North African and Middle Eastern kitchens. It enhances dishes with its unique heat and blend of spices, offering both flavor enhancement and health benefits. Its use in everything from marinades to soups exemplifies its integral role in regional cuisines.


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