Heaven Preserve Us: Caraway Seeds – Harissa Paste

Heaven Preserve Us: Caraway Seeds – Harissa Paste

I’ve cooked a lot for Heaven Preserve Us recently and i’ve been experimenting using different flavour combinations to enhance our recipes. Caraway is one of the spices we use in our new range. Here’s a bit about this quite extraordinary little seed.

Caraway, also known as meridian fennel,or Persian cumin, is a biennial plant in the family Apiaceae and is native to western Asia,Europe and Northern Africa. The plant resembles other members of the carrot family, with finely divided, feathery leaves with thread-like divisions, growing on 20–30 cm stems. The main flower stem is 40–60 cm tall, with small white or pink flowers in umbels. Caraway fruits or seeds are crescent-shaped achenes, around 2 mm long, with five pale ridges. Caraway has been called by many names in different regions, with names deriving from the Latin cuminum or cumin, the Greek karon, again meaning cumin, which was adapted into Latin as carum which means caraway. The English usage of the term caraway dates back to at least the mid 15th century and is considered by Skeat to be of Arabic origin.


Caraway is used in desserts, liquors, casseroles, Indian dishes and other foods. It is used in some Indian cuisine such as in rice dishes like Pulaos, Biryani, as well as a breath freshener, and medicinal purposes. It is more commonly found inEuropean cuisine.  and is most commonly used in British caraway seed cake. Caraway is also used to add flavor to cheeses such as bondost, pultost and havarti. In Middle Eastern cuisine, caraway pudding is a popular dessert during Ramadan. In natural medicine the Nigella and Caraway seeds are extolled as being “a cure for every disease except death.”


Today I am adding it to our Harissa marinade. Harissa is a chilli-based condiment which is widely used in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria specifically. It is served as a side dish to accompany  grilled or barbecued meat or mixed with tomatoes (skinned and seeded) to use as a dip for kebabs or snacks. It is often also added to a soup or stew to give it a chilli kick or used in a sauce. If added to yoghurt, it makes an excellent marinade. It is composed of chilli peppers, garlic, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, garlic cloves, salt and olive oil, in proportions to suit your palate, but commonly up to 12 chillies are used. We also add caraway to our harissa for extra zing.



  • 250g tomatoes, peeled and deseeded
  • 6 Scotch Bonnet chillies
  • A pinch of caraway seeds
  • A pinch of  cumin seeds
  • A pinch of  coriander seeds
  • 4 big garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • A large pinch of salt
  • 50ml olive oil


Firstly, peel and deseed the tomatoes. We usually place ours in a bowl of boiling water for 10 minutes or until the skin begins to crack. Then they are easy to peel. Next, cut them in half and remove the seeds, chop and add to the food processor together with the Chilli, garlic and shallots. Blitz, then add to a saucepan. In a small saute pan dry roast the spices until they start to release their aroma. Allow to cool then either pound in a mortar and pestle or blitz in a spice grinder. Add the spice powder to the tomato mixture and season to taste with salt. Bring to the boil on a medium heat then allow to simmer until thickened, usually 10-12 minutes. then allow to cool, place in sterilised jars leaving a gap. Add the olive oil and place in the fridge for up to 2 months.

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