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rose harissa paste

Updated: Jan 10

Although most of the ingredients in this recipe share no place in the northern British kitchen, the venn diagram which brought it together made sense at the time.

With about a year to go at the pub I was looking back at the past career and reflecting on some of my favourite dishes I had cooked over the decades. one combination which blew me away when I ate it was raw oysters with grilled spicy lamb merguez sausage. a dish I hadn't seen anywhere since serving it with Simon Arkless in Melbourne in 2005.

One afternoon I was speaking with Helen Wray from Gam farm in the Dales who mentioned that the price of feed was being driven up and asked if we could take a few more hogget than usual.

After 4 years diligently building the pantry, it was time to run it down. during the lockdowns we made many iterations at being a takeaway resulting in a reasonable supply of chilli largely varieties from Mexico. at the start of summer wild roses were everywhere in the hedgerows. rose harissa seemed like a good way to utilise the chilli.

Merguez sausages and oysters seemed like a great answer to Helen's Hoggets.

kilograms of rose petals seems excessive. but they add up very quickly if you have access to bushes near by. you can collect the kgs if you go out a few days of the week and fill a small bag.

kilograms of harissa seems excessive too, and frankly it is, feel free to scale the recipe down. it is just in a bulk as a suggestion that roses are not in season for ages. kept under oil it lasts the year in the fridge once you have made your own you will be reaching for it again and again to mix in yoghurts, rub on braised or roasted meats, mix into pickles, or to add some heat to stews.

if you have missed rose season you can supplement the fresh rose petals for dried, if they are too much to source reduce the salt in the recipe a touch and feel free to add a little rose water to taste instead.


400 grams dried guajillo chilies de seeded

250 grams dried ancho chilies  de seeded

400 garlic cloves, peeled

60g fennel seeds

100g cumin seeds

100g coriander seeds

100g caraway seeds

300g tomato paste

2kg fresh wild rose petals

150g sugar

100g smoked paprika

300g salt

1kg cider vinegar

1200kg cold pressed rapeseed or extra virgin olive oil

  1. Heat a charcoal bbq. once the flames have died down toast chillies and garlic until fragrant and charred, about 2 minutes. Pick out the garlic and set aside. Transfer the chilies to a heat-proof bowl.

  2. Pour enough boiling water over the chilies to just cover them, and then weigh them down with a small plate. Soak for 30 minutes to soften and rehydrate, then strain and discard soaking water. Roughly chop the chilies and add them to the bowl of a food processor

  3. Meanwhile, add the cumin, fennel seed, coriander, and caraway to a frying pan and toast over medium-high heat until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

  4. Transfer the seeds to a mortar and pestle and roughly crush them before adding them to the food processor along with the chopped chilies, garlic, tomato paste, rose petals, sugar, and paprika. Pulse a few times until roughly chopped and combined.

  5. Add the cider vinegar, 500g of oil, and a pinch of salt to the food processor. Blitz until you have a coarse paste.

  6. Transfer the mixture to a bowl add the remaining oil.

  7. Transfer the harissa to a sterilized airtight jar and keep refrigerated if not using right away. Harissa keeps covered with a layer of oil in the refrigerator for months.

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