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Shared by Joanna Bensimon


Yield: 1 cupTime: 1 h and 30 min


Yield: 1 cupTime: 1 h and 30 min

Family Journey

Casablanca, MoroccoKiryat Shmona and Netanya, IsraelParis
Martinique and GuadeloupeNew York CityLas Vegas

On Saturday mornings, Joanna Bensimon would help her mother make harissa as she watched cartoons. “This was the perfect task to be given as my mother didn't cook on Shabbat but yet couldn't stay out of the kitchen or stay still,” she explains. As an adult, her mother would bring suitcases full of food when she visited, including her harissa. After one visit, Joanna mixed harissa with ketchup, which sparked the idea for her squeezable harissa company The Hamsa Brand. While Ora has always been in charge of the kitchen, she’s happy to let Joanna take charge of this recipe.

Read more about Joanna's family in "A Moroccan Shabbat Aperitif Tradition Finds a New Home in Queens" and try her recipes for Moroccan beef cigars, fava beans with cumin, and potato-filled pastels.


  • 4 ounces dried ancho and/or guajillo chilis
  • 4 - 6 dried chilis de arbol, depending on your heat preference
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • Olive oil for preserving
SidesVeganVegetarianPareveGluten FreeNorth Africa


  • Step 1

    Soak all the dried chili peppers including the chilis de arbol in a pot with warm water for 1 hour. 

  • Step 2

    Strain the peppers and remove their seeds and stems. Lay the peppers over a paper towel-lined tray and set them aside to dry for about 15 minutes.

  • Step 3

    Place the peppers and garlic cloves into a food processor. Process the mixture until a smooth paste is formed.

  • Step 4

    Transfer the pepper and garlic paste into a large mixing bowl. Add the cumin and salt and mix well until combined. Taste to adjust any seasonings.

  • Step 5

    Transfer the harissa paste into a 1 ½ cup sterile glass jar. Pour up to ½ cup of olive oil over the paste to seal the harissa.

The harissa can hold up to 6 months in the refrigerator.