Number 93: Rose Harissa

27 Mar

I’m fairly certain that this blog has made me the most skilled internet researcher on the planet.  No joke.  Trying to find some of these foods was hard work, and rose harissa was probably the most elusive of them all.  Rose harissa is a North African sauce that is made of chili peppers, rose petals, and many different spices (14 in this case).  It can be incorporated into recipes or simply used as a condiment.  While finding plain harissa was simple, trying to locate rose harissa was nearly impossible.  I found a company called Belazu that sold a jarred version, but as far as I could tell, it was only sold in the UK.  Finally, I found out that there was a store in Toronto that sold imported Belazu rose harissa sauce.  Good thing I was already headed there to eat some horse!

Dan and I walked three miles in 30-degree weather to get to the store, and once we got there, I didn’t feel much better about my chances of finding the sauce.  The store was long and narrow with jars, cans, and bottles of various jams, jellies, olive oils, and sauces practically stacked up to the ceiling.  After 20 minutes of looking around, we finally asked a guy if they had it.  He pointed us to an area of the store that we never would have found, and there it was: Belazu rose harissa sauce for 12 bucks a jar.

I waited until today to actually open the stuff because, frankly, I had no idea what to do with it.  Luckily, I found a super easy recipe for harissa-rubbed chicken and threw that together in minutes.  All it involved was putting olive oil, oregano, and rose harissa on a few chicken breasts and sticking ’em in the oven.

As a side dish, I threw together this Basil Quinoa with Red Peppers (and threw in some feta cheese, for good measure).

Once the chicken was ready, I dug in.  The rose harissa added a subtle spiciness to the chicken, but I don’t think I added enough to really get a good taste of it.  To remedy this problem, I took a spoonful of the stuff and just ate it out of the jar.  Big mistake.  It was REALLY spicy.  It was nothing compared to the Scotch bonnet pepper I had a few days ago, but still very, very spicy.  It was loaded with chili pepper seeds and spices, and had a really bold flavor.  It actually tasted kind of meaty, like a piece of extra-hot chorizo.  Although it burned my mouth off, it was delish!  The whole time I was tasting it, I kept searching for the delicate flavor of rose petals, but I couldn’t really find it.  I guess when you mix rose petals with hot peppers, the hot peppers win.

THE VERDICT
I’m not usually a fan of heat, but I could get used to this stuff.  It really gave a lot of flavor to an otherwise plain chicken breast, and I barely had to use any of it.  I have heard of people mixing rose harissa into soups or pasta sauces or couscous, or topping their roasted veggies with it, and I would love to try it in all sorts of different ways.  The sauce is so complex and versatile that I can imagine it giving any bland dish new life.

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6 Responses to “Number 93: Rose Harissa”

  1. IntenseGuy March 27, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    Your dedication – walking 3 miles in the cold – is paying off! You are nearly done your list!

    With your Internet Search Skills… I hope you found some Phaal… whatever the heck that is!

  2. IntenseGuy March 27, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    Oh bad news – I jsut read about what Phall was… “It is one of the hottest forms of curry regularly available, even hotter than the vindaloo, using a large number of ground standard chili peppers, or a hotter type of chili such as scotch bonnet or habanero.”

    Good thing you saved it for last, you will never taste anything again…

  3. Kelly @ Dare to be Domestic March 28, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    I am so happy it was a hit, considering it cost you a trip to Canada {ok half a trip since the trip was really for the horse} AND $12.00 for the tiny jar. Knowing that it is delicious makes it totally worth it.

  4. Laura in Cancun March 28, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    I looove sauces! This one sounds pretty awesome

  5. Cathy March 30, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    Hmm…this actually sounds like something that my husband would love to cook with. Maybe I need to go to Toronto? I can pick up a jar of this AND eat horse.

  6. Bridget April 2, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    I am really hungry now……REALLY HUNGRY!!!!! Well, you had me at quinoa but this whole dish looks amazing! Although once again, I think the spice would kill me. I’ve never heard of this stuff but I think Tony would like it, cause it has roses in it. That man loves to eat flowers!

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