Harissa, a fiery red condiment originating from North Africa, has transcended its cultural roots to become a global sensation. A staple in Tunisian, Moroccan, and Algerian cuisines, this aromatic paste is not just a flavourful addition to dishes but also delivers a number of health benefits.
Harissa traces its roots to the Maghreb region, where the combination of chilies, garlic, olive oil, and various spices creates a zesty and robust paste. Traditionally, the primary ingredients include roasted red peppers or chili peppers, garlic, coriander, caraway seeds, and olive oil. The precise blend can vary across regions and households, resulting in a spectrum of flavours that range from subtly smoky to intensely spicy.
Historically, harissa was crafted as a means of preserving peppers and spices in the pre-refrigeration era. Over time, it evolved from a practical condiment to a culinary delight, finding its way into diverse dishes such as stews, couscous, grilled meats, and even a versatile table condiment.
Well, that's lovely but what can i use it for?
- Add a teaspoon of smoked Harissa to a spaghetti bolognese, you'll get a subtle smokey, fiery kick!
- A Tuna and cheese melt sandwich is taken to the next level with a little Harissa spread on there too!
- It's great with lamb - try this for example! https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/slow-cooked-harissa-lamb
- This is also an epic, tried and tested sandwich ! https://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/vegetarian/quick-and-easy-halloumi-harissa-and-honey-toastie/
There is a UK brand that i'm particularly fond of, as they do a range of Harissa and they are all exceptional, check out the below:
Whilst this is not professional medical advice 😆, it's widely accepted that it has a number of health benefits - at least that's that excuse i use when slathering it on absolutely anything..
- Rich in Antioxidants: The main ingredients in harissa, particularly red peppers and garlic, are rich in antioxidants. These compounds play a crucial role in neutralising free radicals in the body, thereby reducing oxidative stress and lowering the risk of chronic diseases.
- Metabolism Booster: The capsaicin in chili peppers, a key component of harissa, has been linked to an increase in metabolism. This can aid in weight management and promote overall metabolic health.
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Garlic, another integral element of harissa, contains allicin, a compound known for its anti-inflammatory properties
- Heart Health: Olive oil, a staple in harissa recipes, is a heart-healthy fat. It contains monounsaturated fats, which are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases. The combination of capsaicin from peppers and the heart-protective properties of olive oil makes harissa a potentially beneficial addition to a heart-healthy diet.
- Immune System Support: Garlic is renowned for its immune-boosting properties. The allicin in garlic has antimicrobial and antiviral effects, which may contribute to enhanced immune function. Including harissa in your diet could provide a flavourful way to support your body's defences.