I divide all Harissa recipes into three groups: basic, variable, and exquisite ones. For basic harissas, the list of ingredients is shorter — dried chiles bring heat and fruity flavors, cumin and coriander represent spices, garlic (often sun-dried) adds pungence, salt, and olive oil. Variable harissas may include sun-dried tomatoes and fire roasted sweet peppers, onion, and herbs. Extra fancy harissas have an extensive list of spices and herbs and even include Damask rosebuds. My recipe belongs to the second category.
Seven years ago, we came to San Francisco and spent the whole day with our friends, walking and talking. It was time for lunch when we were passing by the Ferry Building Marketplace. “You have to try this red cabbage salad!” — said my friend and led us to The Slanted Door…
This recipe/variation is based on Zhengyalov Hats, a specialty of Karabakh region in Armenia. “The main purpose of its preparation is to unite once again to make a family meal together, to talk about all pressing matters, to exchange news.” To make Zhengyalov Hats, unleavened dough is rolled as thin as paper, stuffed with a mixture of 10-20 different varieties of wild and garden chopped greens, and cooked on hot saj. It is very important to create a well-balanced mix of greens and herbs. Cheese and fried onions are sometimes added.
This recipe is vegetarian. To make it vegan replace Ghee (clarified butter) with vegetable oil of your choice, and cow milk yogurt with coconut milk yogurt. A wonderful combination of Indian spices make this dish highly flavorful, and chili peppers make it hot. You can adjust the level of spiciness and heat to your taste. When Eastern Europeans see this recipe, they call it Indian golubtsy and ask me what can be used instead of chickpea flour which is not easily available there. I don’t see any harm in experimenting with other locally available gluten free flours (buckwheat, oat, etc.), spices, and flavorful herbs and vegetables.