Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Harissa \hah-REE-suh\ or \huh-REE-suh\ , noun;
1. A pungent paste or sauce made with chilies, garlic, cumin, caraway, coriander, paprika, and olive oil, used as a condiment and flavoring in North African and Middle Eastern cookery
From eCurry - there's a recipe too!
This word is first attested in 1910 and it comes from Arabic harisa, which derives from harasa ("to crush, pound, tenderize by beating"). The extra 's' is probably influenced by French harissa, which is a condiment made from puréed or powdered chilies. Presumably French harissa comes from the same Arabic source.
Although the word harissa didn't make it to English until the last century, harisa has been around since at least medieval times. Originally it was a porridge-like dish made of ground wheat and tenderized meat pounded together. It was eaten by many Arabic-speaking peoples including those in Muslim Spain. It was also eaten as a Sabbath dish by Jews in Spain in the 13th century.

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