Harissa is a smoky and spicy chile paste that gives these chicken skewers a kick, which is cooled down with a flavorful creamy herb yogurt dipping sauce.
As someone who loves being in the kitchen and making things from scratch, I rarely use store-bought sauces and aside from my pregnancy-induced cravings for macaroni and cheese from the box, I don’t cook many pre-packaged foods. I have a feeling this might change a bit when our little one comes and we don’t have as much time to spend in the kitchen, so I’ve started trying different products to find which ones I like.
When I started seeing recipes using harissa, a spicy sauce typically used in Moroccan dishes, I figured I would try a pre-made version to see what it was all about. It was pretty good, but I wasn’t blown away by it like I thought I would be. I mean, people were talking about it like it’s the new Sriracha!
While I completely understand the appeal of pre-made sauces, this was one case where homemade was so much better. Compared to the store-bought version that I tried, my homemade harissa was spicier, smokier, and overall more flavorful. Best yet, this homemade version doesn’t take hours to make. All it involves is a simple broil of the peppers in the oven and toasting of the spices, and everything is ready to go for a whirl in the food processor.
If you aren’t a huge fan of spicy foods, you can tone down the spice a couple of ways. First off, you can take all of the seeds and membranes out of the peppers before you broil them. Second, you can use different peppers. Bell peppers aren’t spicy at all, so you could use a couple of those instead of the cayenne/chile peppers. You could also leave out the chipotle peppers, but I love the smoky flavor those add.
Even if the harissa is a little spicy, that’s what the yogurt sauce is for! The creamy dipping sauce cools off your mouth leaving you ready for the next bite.
This recipe is perfect for those gorgeous spring evenings when you can’t wait to get off work, change into a t-shirt and shorts, and simply be outside. Whether you want to sit on the patio and sip a beverage, go for a run, or do work in the yard, this recipe is quick if you make the harissa ahead of time, and from there you just let the grill do the work.