1 tsp. date paste or another liquid sweetener (optional)
To roast the peppers preheat the oven to 4250 F (2000 C).
Cut the tops off and clean out the seeds and core. Cut them into quarters and place them skin-side up on a baking tray lined with parchment paper (or a baking mat).
Roast the peppers for 20 minutes until the skins begin to char.
Remove the peppers, place them in a shallow bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap. Leave them to cool while you prep the rest of the paste.
First, toast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, and red chili flakes by placing them in a skillet over medium heat. Stir them around the skillet for 1-2 minutes until they become fragrant and slightly brown. Immediately remove them from the heat and place them in a spice grinder or mortar.
Grind the spices into a fine powder (it’s ok if there are little bits left).
Add the sumac, garlic, and diced red chili. Blend further.
Next, remove the skins of the roasted red peppers and dice the flesh.
Add the red peppers, lemon juice, parsley, and date paste (if using).
Blend everything to smooth, or leave the paste a little chunky if you like.
Add harissa paste in soups, stews, hummus, or as a replacement for tomato paste in pasta sauces.
The prep time is for the peppers only. It is assumed that you can toast the spices and prep the rest of the ingredients while the peppers bake and cool. You can also roast, peel, and dice the peppers beforehand. Store them in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.
Store unused harissa in the refrigerator for 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Sumac has a distinct, lemony flavor. If you do not have that available, substitute ½ a teaspoon of lemon zest.
You can substitute 3-4 pimento peppers to replace the red bell peppers if you like.