Like Italians with their tomato sauce, home cooks across North Africa and the Middle East are serious about their harissa. Each cook has his or her own special method for grinding the chiles and blending in oil, garlic and spices. That’s why our harissa is bound to family tradition.
Thick, vibrantly red and lusciously textured, our piquant chile condiment recipe is inspired by Ron’s mother, Linor, who was taught how to make it by her mother after their family emigrated from Morocco to Israel.
The name harissa comes from the Arabic word meaning “to break,” which likely stems from the mashing of the chiles. We blend three chile varieties into every batch of our harissa. But even more than heritage, what really sets our harissa apart is its pure flavor and composition. We want the chiles to speak for themselves, and want you to find ways to put harissa on EVERYTHING, even in a classic Bloody Mary.
A few notes about this recipe:
•If you like your Bloody Mary really spicy, add more harissa.
•If you like your Bloody Mary a bit on the saltier side, add a pinch more salt or celery salt.
•If you like your cocktails more on the sour side, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
•And if you like a more classic Bloody Mary, add 1 tsp. of jarred, prepared horseradish.
2 cups tomato juice (you can also substitute for fresh tomatoes when in season)
1/4 cup harissa such as New York Shuk Preserved Lemon Harissa (or New York Shuk Signature Harissa)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp. preserved lemon, finely chopped to a paste; don’t worry if you get few bigger pieces in there (Preserved lemon can be found at specialty food stores and some Trader Joe’s stores.)
2 Tbsp. olive brine
1/3 cup vodka
pinch of salt (according to how salty the preserved lemon, and your taste, you might need more)
Celery stalk for serving
Combine the tomato juice, harissa, Worcestershire sauce, preserved lemon, olive brine and vodka. Taste it and adjust seasoning to your taste (see notes above).
Garnish with the celery stalk and serve chilled.
Ron and Leetal Arazi are the founders of New York Shuk, whose mission is to keep our edible heritage alive by sharing the vibrant Middle Eastern Jewish cuisine of their families. They have a line of harissa and spice products that can be found online.
The Nosher food blog offers a dazzling array of new and classic Jewish recipes and food news, from Europe to Yemen, from challah to shakshuka and beyond. Check it out at www.TheNosher.com.