Harissa: We Test 4 For You

Harissa is one of my favorite hot sauces. When I read something recently about a guy who was making the real deal, Tunisian style, I needed to try it. That, plus a curiosity about rose harissa (much touted by people like Ottolenghi), led to a possible excess ordering of harissa with a taste test as my excuse.

To set the playing field, I don’t care for the stuff that comes in a yellow tube. It’s hot but boring and has a texture like tomato paste. My favorite has been Domaine de Provence, but it’s expensive at and I’ve only been able to find it on Amazon.

I was hoping the Zwita (the new Tunisian) harissa would be a better, slightly less expensive replacement, but the first jar was disappointing. Since it was supposed to be authentic, I thought it might be incredibly spicy (like the almost inedible jar a Moroccan friend made for us), so I ordered the mild version. It was mild, more like a red pepper paste/condiment than what I was expecting from a harissa. It’s yummy smeared on a sandwich, but if you’re looking to give some couscous a punch, this is not it.

That gave me an excuse for buying another jar of Zwita—this time the spicy version. It was much hotter than the mild, and the hottest of all four we tried. We might combine it with what’s left of the mild and have the perfect degree of heat. They’re both thick and more of a spread than the other two we tried.

The Domaine de Provence has a nice balanced flavor and packs some heat, but not so much that you can’t taste anything. It might not be the most authentic, but it tastes good and has been my harissa splurge.

However, it may have met its match in the Belazu rose harissa. Like the DDP, it’s flavorful and moderately spicy. While I didn’t really detect any specific rose petal taste, it had more depth of flavor than the others, a nice texture and good heat.

To me, the winner by a slim margin would be the rose harissa. I really liked the taste of it, but all of them were good and we look forward to working our way through them. As my Meetup golf group would say “we’ve got options”.



If you buy the Domain de Provence or the Belazu harissa through the links, we may get a small commission.


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