Harissa is a paste made of peppers, chilli, garlic, coriander, carraway and a number of other spices depending on region. It is traditionally used in meat and fish stews, however I believe it has a multitude of wonderful uses, including as a pasta pesto with crushed tomatos. I first used Harissa to make some lamb Taco’s and I have to say they were a fabulously tasty variation to the usual Mexican flavourings.
I have used a few Harissa pastes now and I think my favourite so far is the Belazu Rose Harissa (available online and at Waitrose). This particular paste is extra special due to the addition of Rose petals which give it a fabulous flavour and strikingly scarlet colour.
My inspiration was one lonely pomegranate sitting on the ‘mark down’ trolley in the supermarket one day. I decided to marinate some chunks of lamb and serve with a fresh zesty carrot, yellow pepper and pomegranate salad.
– 400g Lean diced lamb
-1 medium onion, sliced into crescents
-1 tbsp honey
-90g Harissa paste
– 1 large carrot
-1 medium yellow bell pepper
-1/2 a pomegranate
– 20ml orange juice
-1 tbsp white wine vinegar
– Rocket leaves
– vegetable oil
First and most importantly you need to marinate the lamb. I left mine to marinate for about 5 hours, you can always leave it longer and prepare the night before and then it will be ready to cook up once you get home from work the following day.
Put the lamb chunks into a bowl and add the Harissa paste, and honey, incorporate and completely coat the lamb pieces with marinade. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge to be left to infuse.
Once your ready to cook the lamb, heat a heavy base pot with a little oil and throw the chopped onion in to brown, and then in goes the lamb to seal quickly. Once sealed turn the heat down, place the lid on the pot and leave to stew. I cooked mine very slowly for about 45 mins, checking and stir every so often to ensure it wasnt drying out. If you need to you could add a little water if it does start to dry out, make sure you turn the flame down.
To prepare your salad, start by removing the fleshy seeds from the pomegranate half. Do this over a bowl so you can catch the juice. Julienne your carrot and finely slice the yellow bell pepper. Toss all together and put to the side.
The dressing is simple, in a jug mix the orange juice and white wine vinegar. If you caught some of the sweet juice from the pomegranate whilst removing the seeds then add that to the dressing too. mix well and set aside to add to the salad right at the last minute.
Once your happy that the lamb is soft and tender, remove from the heat. Dress your plates with the rocket leave and serve the lamb. Now you can add the dressing to the salad and toss through.
Its up to you how you present your dish but however you choose it will certainly be rich in colour and flavour. I served mine with sour cream to turn the heat down a little as the particular paste I used had a bit of a kick to it. You could of course serve it with rice too, or a lovely cous cous.
Enjoy! If you have any of your own Harissa dishes I would love to hear about them, send me a link as I’m keen to keep experimenting with this lovely rich paste.