Chili Harissa

Chili Pepper Harissa – Jimi’s

This is a Spanish recipe that is usually mild heat with a bit of sweetness. There are Turkish, North African versions as well that more closely resemble the Diablo version. For the El Diablo version, use the Mexican chilis listed below.

Update; working on an Aleppo Pepper version, stay tuned…


  • Saute pan, at least 4qt
  • Microplane or fine shredder
  • Food processor or large mortal and pestle
  • A sharp knife 🙂


  • 3 T olive oil (Arbequina varietal preferred)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped into bite size pieces
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 16 ounces canned roasted piquillo peppers
    • Can substitute with roasted Fresno or Cubanelle
    • El Diablo Version: substitute with 8-10oz dried pequin/arbol, soaked overnight (12g if powdered)
  • 2 chili peppers (serrano, poblano or anything mild/medium heat), thinly sliced into rings, seeds intact
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds 1
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds 1
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon pimentón (Spanish smoked sweet paprika)
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 lime, zest and juice


  1. Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  2. Add the carrots and char: until the surface of the carrots are black.
  3. Add the garlic cloves and toast them until golden, flip after about 20 seconds to check, do not burn them.
  4. Add piquillo peppers and toss to combine. Remove from the heat and transfer to a food processor.
  5. Pulse 3 to 4 times until chunky. Set aside.
  6. 2 Grind the chili peppers, spices, and sea salt in a mortar and pestle. Crush everything for about 5 minutes until peppers and spices are broken down.
  7. Add the lemon, lime zest and juice, and olive oil and continue to grind until you achieve a paste.
  8. *Place the paste into the season carrot mixture, stirring to combine.


  1. If using powdered spices, cut amount by half
  2. Or throw everything into processor for a smooth paste. Just make sure initial mixture is cooled (about 100F) so you don’t ‘cook’ the zest and citrus juices.


So, this recipe is what happened when I went to Buford Highway Farmer’s Market looking for piquin peppers. I go to the dried chili section where I find a Latino dude stocking the massive wall of chilis, what luck!…

  • Me: Donde piquillo?
  • Dude: Ah… pequin?
  • Me: No, piquillo…??
  • Dude: No se… pequin?
  • Me [thinking I’ve completely fucked-up this exchange and just want to save both of us]: Ah, lo siento! si-si, pequin!
  • Dude [smiles and points] Aqui!
  • Me [NO idea what I’m in for]: Gracias!

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