This hot paste is used to season many Tunisian dishes, and a version of this would be found in virtually any Tunisian household. This blend is also common in the other North African countries, but the Tunisians
have a heavier hand when it comes to seasoning their foods with chiles and spicy condiments like harissa.
- Yield: 1 cup
- 1 Tbsp Caraway Seeds, whole
- 2 Tbsp Coriander Seeds, whole
- 2 tsp Cardamom Seeds, whole
- 1 tsp Black Peppercorns
- 2 oz Small Dried Chiles (such as Chili De Arbol, Thai chilies, etc.)
- 1 Tbsp Salt
- 1 oz Garlic cloves, chopped
- 4–6 oz Olive Oil
- Place all of the whole spices (caraway, coriander, cardamom, and peppercorns) in a sauté pan set over a medium-low flame, and toast them in the dry pan until they begin to become quite fragrant. (By moving the pan around, you can prevent the spices from burning while heightening their flavor when heating the oils they all contain.)
- Remove the spices from the pan and allow them to cool completely.
- Place the chiles in the sauté pan and toast over a low flame until they just begin to color and emit a spicy aroma (these often make people cough as they emit their spicy oils).
- In a spice mill (or coffee grinder), grind the cooled spices into a powder; remove the powder and repeat this procedure with the chiles.
- Place the salt and garlic in a mortar, and grind to a paste using a pestle.
- Once the garlic and salt are a paste, add the ground spices and continue to grind to make a thick red/brown paste.
- Slowly work the olive oil into to the paste grinding with the pestle all the while to form a smooth and thick paste.