Category Archives: piquant


This Tunisian carrot salad calls for harissa. Many notes accompany the recipe below, but this dish is very easy – the many notes are just a by-product of cooking mzoura quite a few times, then permitting myself to think I know why it has not turned out as good some times as it has others.

1 lb. carrots, peeled and julienned

5 tbs. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tsp. harissa mixed with 6 tbs. water

1 tsp. ground caraway

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. salt

¼ c. wine vinegar

chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro optional garnish.

Bring a saucepan ¾ full of salted water to boil. Add carrots and boil, until tender, 5-8 minutes. Drain well. In a sauté pan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil.

Add the garlic, diluted harissa, caraway, cumin, salt and vinegar. Stir for 2 minutes.

Add carrots and cook them, stirring occasionally, for 5-8 min. Transfer to a serving dish, and serve at room temperature, with or without garnish.

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Capsaicin (from Wikipedia)

The chemical compound capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) is the active component of chili peppers, which are plants belonging to the genus Capsicum. It is an irritant for mammals including humans and produces a sensation of burning in the mouth. Capsaicin and several related compounds are called capsaicinoids and are produced as a secondary metabolite by chili peppers, probably as deterrents against herbivores. Birds are generally not sensitive to capsaicinoids; pet parrots often love to eat even the spiciest curry or hot pepper, as a snack. Pure capsaicin is a lipophilic colorless odorless crystalline to waxy compound.

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harissa 1

North african chili sauce.

Combine 1.5 tablespoons ground cayenne, 1/4 cup ground cumin and 1/2 cup olive oil in a mortar and pestle. I also add as much as 2 teaspoons of ground caraway when I have it. Grind the ingredients into a paste, to which you may add a little salt, to taste.

Since this recipe makes more harissa than is likely to be used at once, I recommend storing it in a glass jar with a lid. Harissa of this kind does not require refrigeration. When stored, the contents of the harissa I have made inevitably separate, requiring the ground spices to be stirred up prior to use.

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