In my little kitchen garden is a shiny black knight, resplendent in one corner of a raised bed.
Not a medieval horse-backed hero however, but a gorgeous variety of chilli pepper, grown from seeds given to me by my brother. The plant is a luscious dark purpley black from it’s stems to it’s leaves, and bears jet black fruit which ripen to deep red. Even the little flowers are a lovely purple-blue.
It’s cropping heavily at the moment and has been for weeks now; they’re quite hot, so I can’t use too many at once. Consequently my freezer is full and I’ve given them away to everyone I can think of.
Obviously, therefore, my thoughts turn to preserving. We both love Stephanie Alexander’s harissa recipe and have guzzled bottles full in the past. I loved the idea of a black harissa and resolved to give it a go one quiet weekend.
The recipe is disarmingly simple – simply whizz together all the ingredients, lob in a jar, and top with olive oil. Knowing how damn hot these chillies are though I decided to ‘thin it out’ with a green capsicum and remove as many of the seeds as possible, as well as knocking together a pure chilli one for the hardier Mr C.
Taking green capsicum, the deseeded chillies, caraway seed, coriander seed and leaves, garlic, sugar and salt, I blitzed them with loads of olive oil. The results were disappointingly green:
I bottled it, straining out some of the excess liquid, and tried again with the pure chilli version. Again, quite green:
I knew that the black form of the chillies is the unripe one and therefore would be green in a normal coloured variety, but I was surprised by how the black pigment was lost when liquidised. Could it be the greenness of the extra virgin olive oil? Surely not the small amount of coriander leaf? Who knows.
So: no black harissa for me. Less drama, but as to flavour, I’ll have to give it a week or so for the flavours to mingle, but I’ll let you know!