January 6, 2021 by A.Asma

What is Harissa?

What is Harissa?

Willing to learn about Mediterranean spices? Exited to learn about what is harissa? Eager to give it a try? Here everything you should know about what is harissa spice and paste. The appearance and use of Capsicum fruit traced back to 7000 BC in the Americas.

Chili pepper is a staple ingredient in Mexican cuisine. Northern states Sinaloa and Sonora use the ‘’wild pepper’’ to add spiciness in soups and cheese while the southern states use it to prepare different types of hot sauces. When introduced to the rest of the world by Christopher Columbus pepper was soon considered as « the poor people’s pepper » since it was available for poor farmers who use it to add endless tastes to their tedious meals. Trade of this fruit took place too early in history; although rumors around it never ended, it was believed that the exportation of pepper from India and Egypt occurred between 1303-1213 BC. Nowadays as the demand for pepper is high, the spicy vegetable has become an important production. Vietnam dominates the spice trade as the world’s largest producer and exporter of pepper with over 263.5 thousand tons of pepper are produced in 2019.

To answer what is harissa, we should first go back to Tunisia and Nabeul. The first Mediterranean region to discover this spicy blend. In Tunisia, chili pepper was ultimately introduced by the Spanish and Portuguese colonizers. Chili peppers are grown in large areas. Indeed, Nabeul is a famous Tunisian region known for spice pepper and different types of harissa. It is located in the northeastern surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea on both sides. As the whole region of Cape Bon, the climate is moderate with 8.4 °C minimum temperature in January and 22.6°C minimum temperature in August. In Nabeul, the spicy fruit appears everywhere, in markets, the small house gardens, the industries, and food. It is unimaginable to think of Tunisian and especially Nabeul cuisine without the hot spicy flavor.

Everything you should know about peppers

Before proceeding ahead with what is harissa, we should stop for a while and learn about the different types of peppers.

If you want to add soul to a dish, throw pepper in it. Whether you prefer your food spicy or sweet peppers bring the flavor you need.

Bell Pepper

The sweet peppers come in big beautiful shapes and fresh colors ( green, red, orange, yellow). Their big size seems perfect to be stuffed with chopped meat.

Mini Sweet Pepper

There is no huge difference between this type of pepper and bell pepper in taste yet they are smaller in look. You can add them to your favorite salads they will be perfect with their mid-sweet taste.

Cubanelle Pepper

It has a golden green fresh color and deep sweet taste that can be used in any dish pasta or pizza.

Banana Pepper

Its name goes perfectly with its banana yellowish shape.

Cherry Pepper

Known as Pimento and has fresh red color and small cute shapes.

Poblano Pepper

This type is considered spicy with a pretty big shape it is most often found stuffed. It is mostly used in Mexican cuisine.

Serrano Pepper

It came long, thin and sharp with bright red color. It is usually added to salads.

Thai pepper

Thai pepper is known for its vibrant red color and hot taste that’s why it’s mostly used in soups and pasta.


It is the spiciest of them all. This kind of pepper is hugely popular.

Habanero pepper

An Amazon pepper, it’s unique orange color. Its hot taste is the perfect addition to any dish.

Ghost Pepper

It originates from India and is considered one of the spiciest chili peppers in the world. It can be used fresh or dried.

Top Spicy Events to learn best about what is harissa paste

China’s Chili Pepper Festival

The celebration is described as ‘’the hottest event ‘’ for its rich spicy program through which competitors and chili lovers involve in food battles. A pool filled with tones of chili peppers and water is where participation is held.

The Cheese and Chili Festival

It takes place in four locations throughout the south of England: Christchurch, Swindon, Guildford, and Winchester. The festival is the only event celebrating cheese and chili in the region.

Pepper Fest

A live festival held in North Hudson for three days to celebrate classic Italian spicy food.

I like it Hot! Festival

The show is a mixture of different delightful activities like a hot sauce competition.

Heating the Capital Festival

The festival is targeting spice enthusiasts, if you can handle the heat you will enjoy it.

Fete du Piment

A French annual event to celebrate pepper.

Briz Chili Fest

The festival is organized by Body and Soul Australia Events and Entertainment. An eating competition is among the activities and many chili products and food are presented.

Collection of Hot sauce or Chili sauce

There is a variety of mass-produced chili sauce. Some are produced with red tomato sauce others are not. In the United States, chili sauces are produced with various grade criteria. From A and C grades (fancy and standard) including coloration, flavor, etc.

Crystal: is the most famous tongue-blistering sauce in New Orleans, it can be put on eggs and cheese.

Sambal Oelek: It shares the same quality as Sriracha, you can dd it to Asian food for a deeper chili taste.

What is harissa is a popular question for many people all over the world. If you are not familiar with Mediterranean cuisine, you may find it very difficult to understand what is harissa. We advise you to give it a try.

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