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red hot chili paste in glass jar next to dried chile peppers and cilantro
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5 from 7 votes

Moroccan Harissa (Chili Paste) + Video

Moroccan harissa is a fiery hot chili paste; not for the faint of heart! Make this recipe to add bold flavor to your favorite African foods
Prep Time35 mins
Total Time35 mins
Servings: 24
Calories: 25kcal
Author: Kevin


  • 2 oz dried red chiles (chiles de arbol)
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon orange water (or rose water)
  • 1 orange (4 inch by 1 inch strip of the zest)


  • Cut off the stems of the dried red chili peppers. Bring a saucepan of water to boil and add the chiles. Simmer for 2 minutes, covered. Turn off the heat (lay a saucer on top of chiles to submerge) and allow to soak for 30 minutes.
  • Using a vegetable peeler, cut a 4 inch by 1 inch strip of the zest from an orange.
  • Toast the cumin and coriander seeds until they start to give off their aroma, do not burn. Set aside. When cooled, place in spice grinder and pulse (See Note 1).
  • Next, either over an open flame blacken the red bell pepper all over until charred or under the broiler. Place charred pepper in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to steam so skin is easily removed. When cool enough to handle discard the stem, veins, seeds and charred skin (See Note 2). Place in a food processor or blender.
  • To the food processor or blender add the garlic cloves, paprika, salt, cumin, coriander, oil, vinegar, orange/rose water and orange zest strip. Puree until it resembles a loose paste.
  • Drain and squeeze excess water from red chiles, add to food processor or blender. Puree until it resembles a smooth paste.



  1. I prefer whole seeds to toast and bring out their essential oils, but feel free to use a heaping ½ teaspoon each ground cumin and coriander and proceed to Step 4.
  2. You can substitute a fire roasted, jarred large red bell pepper.


Calories: 25kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 51mg | Potassium: 57mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 802IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg