The national sauce Harissa is in the lead among Tunisian gifts by the color / price ratio. The product is interesting, almost does not occur in Russia, and you can buy a jar of 135 grams for only 0.7-0.8 dinars (see the current rate of the Tunisian dinar ).
Harissa has long been a part of Tunisian culture and one of the country's important export products. Time magazine called it one of the 50 healthiest products known to mankind. In this article we will talk about the charisse in detail, its significance for Tunisia and the guests of the country, how to choose where to buy.
What is Harissa
This is an acute sauce, common in the Maghreb - Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco. In the 20th century the Harissa appeared in Israel, where it was brought by immigrant Jews from Tunisia, now in Israel it is popular as a sauce in Shawarma. In the early 21st century, Harissa began to export actively, and now it is used in different dishes by European and American chefs.
The classic Tunisian recipe consists of only 5 ingredients: hot chilli, garlic, cumin, coriander and salt. The mixture is ground into paste, if necessary, olive oil is added. The original mixture contains about 85% pepper. Looks like a sauce .
The very name "harissa" comes from the Arabic verb "harasa", which translates as "crush", "crush" or "grind."
In Tunisia, thousands of recipes for charissa, even many families have their own unique recipes. Saffron, rose petals, lemon juice and almost any vegetables are added to the mixture. In southern regions, the pepper is dried and smoked, then the sauce has a slightly smoked taste.
Harissa and Tunisia
Algerians and Moroccans love Harissa, but use it only in limited ways. Tunisians add it wherever it is possible. As a result, throughout the world, Harissa is associated with Tunisia, not with the Maghreb. In books and magazine articles write: "The main Tunisian seasoning," or "Tunisia's National Seasoning," or "Sign of Tunisian meat and fish dishes."
Harissa took root as part of the Tunisian culture. For example, it is believed that if the wife began to add more food to her husband, then she fell out of love. The amount of harissa in the food shows guests how close they are to the family of the owner of the house.
Tourists are told that in Tunisia they think that charissu is a means of increasing sexual potency. It is both truth and fiction. The fact is that Tunisians consider it useful in general, that is, for all aspects of the health of the body and mind. Especially for the potency it is not eaten.
How to choose where to buy and prices
Buy harysa in Tunisia can be almost everywhere - in supermarkets, food stalls, souvenir shops. The spread of prices is insignificant, the price of the product is not high, from the search for a "correct" place of purchase, it will not save much. A good price can always be found in the supermarkets Carrefour and MG .
Harissa occurs as a dry mixture ( see photo ), powder and sauce in canned form (photo near or at the beginning of the article). We strongly recommend buying canned sauce, the mixture and powder should be diluted with oil and insist that it is not very convenient. On olive oil and other gifts from Tunisia, read the article " What to bring from Tunisia ."
The most popular format is small jars of 135 grams, the price is from 0.5 to 1 dinar per piece. There are banks of a larger size (in the photo above, click on the photo to enlarge) and tubes. The current exchange rate is shown in our article " Tunisian Dinar ".
Among the brands "Le Phare du Cap Bon" is considered the best, the lighthouse is depicted on the jar, it is easy to find out. The brand "Le Phare du Cap Bon" was awarded several international awards. The production of this charis is limited, it occurs rarely in the stores, if you are lucky enough to meet, take it without hesitation even at a price higher than 1 dinar.
The best brand in Tunisia is not in vain named in honor of the Cap Bon Peninsula. This area is called "terre rouge", with the French "red earth". There is a version that in honor of the reddish shade of the soil, but mostly on the red color of the fruits that are grown here. Peninsula Cap Bon - the leader of the country for the cultivation of tomatoes and peppers of all kinds.
In autumn throughout Tunisia in the markets you can see a huge cluster of peppers, which are dried for the harissa. The photo on the right is made in the medina of the city of Monastir at the end of September.
In Nabeul (the capital of the region), a three-day festival of hot pepper and harissa is held every October. These days, the best manufacturers from all over Tunisia come to Nabeul. Unfortunately, the festival does not have an exact date, see the news if you want to get to it.
Tunisians made Harissu an income product of exports, they annually deliver to the world market more than 20,000 tons. Now (note: the article was written in 2017) exports to 27 countries have been set up, including Italy, Germany, France and Canada. In Russia there is no Tunisian charis yet, from which it is especially interesting to bring it from Tunisia for the tourist.
If you still bought the mixture or powder, then you have to prepare the sauce. To do this, dilute the mixture or powder in olive oil and let it brew for 12 hours. After that, the sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.
Application and Dishes
Tunisians use Harissa in almost half of their dishes.
Especially in side dishes - sharp pasta, rice, couscous , potatoes, beans. In garnishes seasoning or sauce is added to the dishes during cooking. Sandwiches with tuna and harissa are especially tasty. These can be tried in street fast foods, sometimes they are prepared in hotels. Tuna with the addition of Harissa is very popular as a filling for bricks .
Meat and fish dishes are the main sphere of application. Sturgeon sausages are made from mutton and ground beef with the addition of harissa. Very interesting sauce is used in dishes from eggs, which Russians often amaze. How compatible eggs and pungent taste? Tunisians are preparing spicy eggs for shakshuku and ayzhu.
Come to Tunisia and not try Harissa is unlikely to succeed, except that every day to go to Hard Rock Cafe. Below is a small gallery of photo dishes.
History of appearance
In most sources they write that chili peppers were brought to Tunis by the Spaniards during the occupation of 1535-1574 (read the article " The History of Tunisia "). This is probably true, but the chili would have been in Tunisia without occupation, since trade in the Mediterranean at that time was well established.
Harissa in its current form in those days has not yet appeared. We have a description from 1881 from the book "Our mission to the court of Marocco" by Philip Durham Trotter. He writes: "Harissa, a mixture of pounded wheat, meat and zucchini." In the book "Cooking in Maghreb and Andalusia" by an unknown author of the 13th century, there is a similar description of it as a wheat porridge with meat.
That is, even at the end of the 19th century the name was a full-value meat dish, not a sauce. Perhaps a modern version of the sauce then existed, but was called something else. Most likely, sauce Harissa is very young (by the standards of the history of cooking), he is only 100 years old.
Pleasant tastings of Tunisian dishes, and read our interesting and informative articles about Tunisia ( links below ).