Pot of magic

Yes. It’s slightly depressing to hear about pots of magic when we are talking about food. There is so much nonsense written about food now – I blame the cooking shows that speak of ‘perfection’ and offer scores rather than thanks for dishes. We have fetishised food to the point of meaninglessness.

I’m not immune. Is anyone?

Having admitted that – and diminished the title of this post – let’s get down to business. I make harissa. It’s not authentic in any real sense. That is to say, I have had no contact with a point of origin; I have merely read a few recipes about harissa and then have made my own. That I call it ‘harissa’ at all is convenience more than anything else. It’s a bit like the way we call our connections on social media ‘friends’. Expanding meanings to fit the times.


Harissa is a kind of condiment that we use for almost anything. It’s on the table most nights at dinner to cheer up all kinds of things.

This is what’s in my pot of harissa:

5 red capsicums

300ml passata

3 cloves of garlic

2 tsp cumin powder

2 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cardamon powder

lots of chilli to taste (I like it quite hot)



OK. I think you need a food processor for this recipe but you might be able to mash or chop.

Cut the capsicums into strips and get rid of any seeds. Put the strips into a big pot, with some good olive oil, and cook over high heat until everything is sizzling. Lower the heat and cook for about an hour or until the strips are all soft. Don’t put a lid on them. They will stew and you want them to fry and blacken a bit. Let cook a little.

Put everything, including the coolish capsicums, into a food processor. Peel the garlic cloves first. Process the whole thing until it is an ugly mess. Taste for heat and flavour. Add more (you can’t take away …) as you see fit.

IMG_3698 2



Put in a jar and store in the fridge. Depending on demand, this jar can last a while. In my house, usually less than a week.


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