Harissa (Arabic: هريسة harīsa, from Maghrebi Arabic) is a Maghrebi hot chili pepper paste, the main ingredients of which are roasted red peppers, Baklouti (بقلوطي) pepper, serrano peppers, and other hot chili peppers, spices and herbs such as garlic paste, coriander seed, saffron, rose, or caraway.
Harissa is most closely associated with Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, and Morocco. As with the European cuisine, chili peppers were imported into Maghrebian cuisine via the Columbian Exchange, presumably during the Spanish occupation of Tunisia between 1535 and 1574.
Recipes for harissa vary according to the household and region. Variations can include the addition of cumin, red peppers, garlic, coriander, and lemon juice. Ingredients can be fermented onions, garlic, peppers or tomato paste. In Saharan regions, harissa can have a smoky flavor.
Prepared harissa is also sold in jars, cans, bottles, tubes, plastic bags, and other containers. Harissa is sometimes described as "Tunisia's main condiment", even "the national condiment of Tunisia", or at least as "the hallmark of Tunisia's fish and meat dishes". In Tunisia, harissa is used as an ingredient in a meat (poultry, beef, goat or lamb) or fish stew with vegetables, and as a flavoring for couscous. It is also used for lablabi, a chickpea soup usually eaten for breakfast.
In Algeria, harissa is commonly added to soups, stews, and couscous. Harissa paste can also be used as a rub for meat or eggplant.
In Israel, harissa is a common topping for sabich and shawarma, although other hot sauces like the Yemeni sahawiq or the Iraqi amba are also used.
Moroccan cuisine has also adopted harissa, using it as a side condiment for tagines, or sometimes mixed into dishes.