When nature gives you roses, make rose harissa! The rose plant offers so much when it comes to kitchen ingredients. Summertime roses are in full bloom. Not only are they beautiful to look at and nourish our hearts, they can nourish our bodies too. Its been on my mind to create a rose harissa recipe for a while. I hope you agree my efforts paid off!
Harissa is a North African red chilli paste. Originally from Tunisia, like many traditional recipes, harissa will have variations, household to household. In Arabic, harissa means to crush or pound, which is how harissa is traditionally made. Fortunately we live in a modern world where we have the option not to pound by hand but use a blender! Although I do think it would taste better if we did pound it by hand, we will leave that for another time!
From working with various chefs from North Africa and the Middle East down the years, this rose harissa recipe is based on what I learned from them. It is easy to prepare at home. My little unique variation is the addition of rose petals.
Roses: A Culinary Delight
All roses are edible. The petals and the fruit, known a rosehips, can be used as ingredients. Ultimately, I this harissa recipe, I want to use the rosehips as an alternative to roasted tomatoes, the usual ingredient in harissa. However, rosehips come after the petals have fallen. Perhaps later in the autumn I will give this a try. So in this harissa recipe I am using rose petals. The addition of rose petals to this fiery chilli paste takes off the heat a little bit and adds texture. As well, I simply wanted to make it with something I had foraged!
I am surprised at how easy it is to make homemade harissa. Harissa is easily obtainable from the supermarket, however, there is always a certain satisfaction from making ones own, and a reassurance from knowing exactly what's in the finished product.
I foraged for the harissa recipe from wild roses that grow along hedgerows, and the majority of the petals I gathered were pale pink. Consequently, my harissa is quite a pale colour. My wish was to find more vividly coloured rose rugosa, but I didn't find enough for my recipe. Maybe next year!
Harissa has such a beautiful flavour and kick to it. I use it to flavour stews, soups, curries and even mayo. It makes a great sandwich spread as well.
Why not give my gluten free and vegan savoury tomato and rose harissa tart recipe a go?
A video guide to making your own rose harissa
Homemade Harissa With Foraged Rose Petals
- Digital scales
- Jam Jars with lids
- 450 gms Plum Tomatoes
- 25 gms Garlic unpeeled
- 100 gms Rose Petals
- 65 gms Kasmiri Chillies
- 5 gms Cumin seeds
- 10 gms Coriander seeds
- 8 gms Castor Sugar
- 20 gms Lemon juice
- 10 gms Rose water
- 40 gms Apple Cider Vinegar
- 60 gms Olive oil
- 20 gms Sea Salt
- Pre heat the oven to 150ºC (fan assisted)
- Halve the plum tomatoes and place them on a roasting tray along with the unpeeled garlic. Drizzle a little olive oil on top of the tomatoes and roast in the oven for an hour.
- Wash the rose petals to insure there are no bugs, leaves or stems and pat dry. Set aside.
- In a pan over a medium heat, roast the cumin and coriander seeds for a few minutes. You will know when they are done when you smell the fragrance of the spices. Once done, immediately transfer to a plate to cool.
- In the same pan over a medium heat, roast the red chillies for a few minutes. You will know when they are done when the colour changes to a deeper red and a bit brownish (see the how-to video) Once ready, transfer immediately into a bowl. Pour boiling water over the chillies and cover to hydrate. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Grind the cumin and coriander.
- Once the chillies are soft, put on some gloves and remove stems and cut into half or into three. Remove some or all of the seeds if you dont want the harissa to be too hot.
- Wash the jam jars with hot soapy water and leave to drain.
- Once the tomatoes are ready, turn the oven down to 100ºC. Sterlise the jam jars and lids for a minimum of half an hour.
- In a blender or food processor add the chillies, tomatoes, peeled garlic, salt and sugar and blend to a rough paste.
- Add the rose petals, 40 gms olive oil, lemon juice, rose water and apple cider vinegar and blend to a rough paste.
- Spoon into sterilised bottles, cover with a layer of olive oil and seal with the lid.
Rose Harissa Recipe Notes
You can use rose petals from your garden, just make sure you haven't sprayed them with chemicals. If foraging for wild roses, as with any foraged ingredients, be mindful of the environment you are picking from. Roadside or adjacent to sprayed fields is not ideal.
The chillies are quite fiery, so feel free to remove the seeds as much as you want to tame the harissa a bit. Ensure you wear gloves because the heat from the chilli can cause discomfort on the skin or if you rub your eyes!
You can use any white vinegar, instead of apple cider vinegar.
You can use pre-ground spices, however, it will change the flavour. I always like to grind my spices from the seeds. If you use pre-ground spices, do roast it for a few minutes in a pan over medium heat to allow them to release their flavour.
Each time you use your harissa, be sure to use a clean, dry spoon to avoid contamination and the encouragement of mould growth. Also make sure the surface is covered with olive oil before storing again. This one step ensures your harissa will remain mould free.
You can store your harissa for up to three months. I have kept harissa in the fridge for longer than three months, although I don't recommend doing so.
Glass jars are always better to store preserves as they do not leach. I don't recommend plastic or tupperware. my mother-in-law keeps me well supplied with old glass jam jars!