Authentic Moroccan Harissa – family Style

The Villa Jerada brand Harissa represents the story of my returning back to my Moroccan roots.  In every Moroccan Souk, store and home you will find this spicy condiment used as either a base for cooking, or as a garnish to add spice to your meal. Harrissa remains a staple in the Moroccan kitchen, much like Ketchup, Tabasco or Siracha is in many American homes. Though some key ingredients remain essential to every Harissa recipe, variances do exist, setting some apart from the other. How is Villa Jerada’s recipe any different from what’s in the market today? Well first, though this sauce remains prevalent in Morocco, its influence on this recipe goes beyond the geography of my native country and past the vibrant street culture that comprised of my upbringing, to the center of where my love for food began. My mother’s kitchen was abundant, with delicious smells and full of love. It is an enduring memory that guides me on my journey of exploring and sharing my culture through food. To be honest, though, the process of doing the latter through Harissa was no easy feat. It has taken three years to get to this point. The Harissa production journey began with the realization of Harrisa’s market demand, which naturally turned my distribution itch to quickly finding a reliable Moroccan source. That quest slowly switched to trying to produce the product locally with a Chef friend of mine, because reliability in Morocco’s Harissa market was hard to come by. I almost gave up on the idea when we failed to get the recipe right. When reflected upon, feelings of defeat have a way of bringing out the best in us. An idea that seemed so far out of reach suddenly felt so close because I realized that in the whole process of trying to produce a recipe, I forgot the key ingredient of why Harissa was so important to me in the first place. It was unique because of the recipe my mother shared with us at home. It dawned on me that my upbringing and the fact that I speak to my mother every day on the phone gave me the tools to produce a Harissa that pays tribute to that experience. The most important leg of my Harissa journey began with daily skype teachings from my mother’s kitchen to my Seattle home. My mom shared while I practiced and gained confidence to make a few minor changes to the recipe as a means of personalizing it, as well as giving it the global-to-local touch. We asked ourselves a few questions. First, Morocco has amazing peppers but can we find better ones? Such as the ones from their native lands, like New Mexico, California, or Mexico? The true answer is yes! So we chose to work with peppers of great quality grown on here. Second, olive oil is a key ingredient and we have one from Morocco (one of the best oils!) so that was perfect. Third, spices are a key ingredient to any Harissa and we have been sourcing some of the very best organic spices from places like Egypt and Turkey for our chefs. This was also an easy decision. Fourth, we needed the perfect mint and we found the best here in our own back yard in the Northwest. Finally we wanted to include our own preserved lemons we make at home. But that was not practical so my Mom found a wonderful source in Morocco. We believe that we have accomplished a perfect “Global” marriage blending superior ingredients from all corners of the globe. You can see it in the color! Villa Jerada’s Harissa stands out amongst other brands because of its “home-made” flavor, as well as its great quality. You can taste the quality difference in Villa Jerada’s Harissa. The clean flavors with distinct spices blend together to create a wonderful home cooked taste!

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