Garlic, cumin, coriander, lemon, peppers...

In the interests of doing something (or a few things) new every day, as I wrote recently in this post about creating new rhythms at home,  it's nice to keep things fresh.

A garlic head grown locally by Patchwork Urban Farm
I don't think of myself as a particularly creative cook, as I tend to fall into a routine of cooking the vegetables that I grow with garlic, olive oil, and a bit of ground pepper, along with some fish or chicken, but I do like international flavors, learning about foodways and food cultures, growing new vegetables, preparing them in different ways, and enjoy (certainly at least reading about) new ingredients.  I've also been trying to step it up with the perennial herbs that I grow, too - they're pretty, but also tasty  -- all I need to do is walk out there and harvest them.

When harissa (a Tunisian pepper condiment) started popping up in some of the cooking magazines that I receive, I found that interesting.  We've had so many versions of spicy condiments become available as American interest in innovative cooking has increased over the last couple of decades -- from salsa to jerk to fermented black bean paste, Korean chili sauces, etc. etc.

Reading about how to make it, I realized I don't have any of the dried peppers that I'd need to make it, didn't find any pre-made (at the local Whole Foods), even though I've seen it elsewhere here in Asheville, and had purchased some (that I didn't like very much) at Trader Joe's about a year ago.
I have parsley growing right now and had a big bunch of cilantro in the fridge, so I thought, hmm, an herb pesto, maybe?  And reading a recently delivered magazine, they wrote about chermoula, another North African condiment that uses both fresh herbs, toasted cumin and coriander, lemon juice, olive oil, and a few other things.  I blended it up in my mini-food processor  - and it'll be the accompaniment to previously made French lentil pilaf and lemon chicken from the Instant Pot for dinner tonight.  I've made "pesto" with parsley and cilantro before, but never added cumin or coriander.  We'll see how it is.

So after doing that, I thought I'd attempt a drawing of a head of garlic, continuing the every day drawing theme, too.

a pen and ink sketch with watercolor pencil
Much to my surprise, as I sat down at the computer, the Milk Street e-news late this afternoon featured what else?  Harissa!  Christopher Kimball recently was in North Africa and Senegal (based on the magazine's articles and his radio program), so clearly these condiments are favorites....There's more to learn about the variations in how it's prepared and used, clearly.  Fun.


  1. I heartily agree. One of the ways life has gotten better is the wide range of foods now available in this country. Speaking of coriander, do you like coriander chutney? So excellent with samosas.

  2. Jason, I don't think I've had coriander chutney. Is it made with fresh herbs? Or it is a cooked chutney? I certainly like the fresh herb chutneys at our favorite Indian place here. But maybe I didn't realize that it was a combination of fresh cilanto/coriander leaves with the dried seeds!


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