Harissa Happiness

I had a hankering for spice today, and we just happened to have bought a bulk order of Al Fez Harissa (both red and green) from Suma recently – so I went with something with a bit of a North African twist.

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Aubergine is one of the most amazing things in the world. And when it’s first griddled, and then baked until meltingly soft, and smothered in green harissa it becomes almost supernatural in it’s perfection.

I’m also, as you may already know, a HUGE fan of okra. Here’s a tip for you – if you don’t want your okra going slimy, or breaking down in your sauce – toss it in lemon juice, salt and oil and roast it until the skin bubbles – chuck it in whatever sauce you’re cooking at the last minute. Alternatively you could always take a leaf out of Bundobust‘s book and make okra fries. (These WILL make an appearance on the blog in the future – I set out to copy them the first time I tasted them.). If you aren’t familiar with Bundobust – it’s a craft beer bar in Leeds that also serves amazing vegetarian Indian street food.

The sauce for the okra is loosely based on one I first tasted in Empires Cafe in Edinburgh. It’s made from charred tomatoes and red peppers, flavoured with ALL the garlic, lemon juice, paprika and a generous amount of red harissa.

The couscous has pumpkin seeds and rocket through it, and is flavoured with black pepper and ajwain seeds. I’ve only recently discovered ajwain seeds, and love their thymey/minty flavour.

Last, but not least, the chickpeas. My wife had really gone off chickpeas (ok, maybe I *might* have added them to just about every meal for a while) – but then I introduced her to ROASTED CRISPY chickpeas. It’s just a tin of chickpeas (don’t forget to keep the amazing AQUAFABA to use as an egg substitute!), tossed in olive oil, smoked salt, smoked paprika and roasted. Then, just before serving, coat them in a teaspoon of red harissa (that might actually be the first specific measurement on this entire food blog!).

Goes rather nicely with a fruity red wine 🙂