January 8, 2021 by A.Asma
Updated May 7, 2021

Things you need to know about Tunisian harissa paste

 Things you need to know about Tunisian harissa paste

Harissa Tunisia

Harissa Tunisia paste initially originated from North Africa. It started gradually to be known by the neighboring countries of Algeria, Libya, and Morocco. The red chili pepper or capsicum pepper was not very popular in the Mediterranean countries until the 16th century with the Spanish and Portuguese colonizers. Tunisia, a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa, has the perfect climate to grow these peppers. If you want to learn more about harissa paste, this article is dedicated to you.

Ingredients of Tunisian harissa

Tunisian harissa sauce has been a cornerstone of Tunisian cuisine for decades. This spicy hot paste is typically made of red chili peppers, baklouti pepper, other spices like cumin, a mixture of Caraway seeds and dried onion, and olive oil.

Peppers, particularly chili peppers are considered to be an important agricultural crop. They play a fundamental role in many economies. After tomatoes, peppers are the second most-produced vegetable in the world. In Tunisia, peppers are broadly grown in the fresh air and under the hot sun. They can be found in home gardens and markets. The climatic conditions, the soil, and the temperature produce the best peppers you ever had tasted. Pepper production exceeds 500 .000 tons annually and 300.000 of which are left to prepare different types of Harissa in factories. There are seven famous local populations of chili peppers ‘’ Baklouti Essahel'', ''Rouge Long '', Chaabani ‘’, ‘’M’ssareh, ‘’Fort de Korba ‘’, Baklouti Kairaouan '', and ''Piment de Sesseb ‘’. These brands are distributed between three regions Cap Bon, Kairouan, and the Sahel.

Tabil is a Tunisian and Algerian spice that leaves a desirable deep flavor in food. It is a basic traditional component in preparing Harissa.

Caraway Seed or Karwiya is used along with Tabil in adding deep fresh flavor.

During July and August, red peppers are dried by Tunisian people to prepare Harissa paste by adding special spices.

Famous National Events

‘’The Harissa and Pepper ‘’ festival takes place in Nabeul, a coastal town located in northeastern Tunisia. The events last for three days with the participation of many countries from around the world including Croatia, Hungary, and North Korea. People of this region are famous for preparing delicious red spicy harissa. The festival presents a golden opportunity to offer a deeper look at Tunisian cuisine. The show is a good way to preserve the classic old recipes. By sharing different traditional dishes and giving direct cooking classes for the participants, Harissa paste is getting the attention of the world.

A Recipe of an easy homemade Harissa

Recipe by Tunisian Chef Mounir Arem

6 lb sun-dried red peppers

1 lb coarse salt

3 cups of vegetable oil

1 lb garlic

6 oz tabil

Olive oil

The spicy paste can last in the fridge for several weeks or even more. If you are planning to make a larger amount, you can easily preserve it in the freezer.

Famous Tunisian Dishes with Harissa Paste

  • Tunisian cuisine is a mixture of Mediterranean and Berber cuisine. Harissa adds soul to the food with its unique warm red color and hot spicy flavor.
  • Lablabi is a Tunisian traditional dish eaten for breakfast especially in winter based onchickpeas, bread, and Harissa.
  • Brik is often seen in Ramadan on the tables of Iftar based on tuna eggs and harissa.

Shan tounsi ‘’ Tunisian plate combines all the Tunisianingredients like tuna, harissa, pepper, olive oil

  • Fricasse is a classic fried bread from Tunisia.
  • Couscous is a remarkable top delicious food which consists of semolina with meat and vegetables.

It’s easy to make harissa paste part of your everyday food

  • You can add harissa to meat and fish or any sea-food.
  • You can prepare spaghetti harissa and juicy tomato.
  • You can enjoy a delicious tuna steak with harissa and potatoes

You won’t think twice before adding the red spicy paste to your eats

Top 7 benefits of harissa

A healthy heart

Chili peppers reduce cholesterol in the blood and expand blood vessels which lower the risk of heart diseases such as heart stroke.

Weight Loss

Eating baklouti peppers has been often associated with weight loss. Capsaicin reduces appetite through a message sent from the stomach to the brain which ultimately helps in burning calories.

A good remedy for Colds

Spicy additions to food appear as anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing. Tunisians often apply it as a natural medicine to treat the flu and cold. Capsaicin, one component that makes pepper spicy. It fights off flu and supports the immune system as a clinical study has recently shown.

Anemia prevention

The lack of natural red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen to the body tissue is a critical health condition known as anemia. Red peppers are considered a fair source of iron as well as Vitamin C which helps the absorption of iron from your gut.

A healthy and clean mouth

‘’ Smile at strangers and you just might change a life ‘’ but bad breath may turn things around. Vitamin C is essential in fighting bacterias; Red pepper with its rich components helps improve the bad odor of your breath.

Hair growth

When it stimulates the blood circulation to the hair follicles, Capsaicin helps to better and healthier hair growth.

Doctors and hair experts suggest a mask of cayenne pepper and olive oil as a unique treatment to combat hair loss.

Good for Skin

Red sweet peppers are good for the skin thanks to the mix of Vitamins it contains. A, C, and K Vitamins are ultimately essential for getting glowing clean skin.

Mild harissa paste is an international heritage

In his interview with Aljazeera, Imad Soula, a Tunisian researcher in popular culture, stated that Tunisia submitted a file to include Harissa paste in the World Heritage List of humanity prepared by UNESCO as a traditional spice in Tunisian cuisine and a historical symbol.

Harissa paste is originally a Tunisian wonder; an exceptional landmark in Tunisian cuisine and Mediterranean food.


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