A friend and I went grocery shopping yesterday afternoon. After dumping our many bags in the car, we went back into the mall for a cup of coffee. Since we are both fond of trying out new things, we looked at the snack bar and saw something called a cheese and harissa bun. I asked the boy at the counter what harissa was, my chief concern being whether it was vegetarian or not. He assured me that it was vegetarian, and said that it had coriander leaves etc. in it. We decided to share one, and asked for it to be cut into two pieces.
Well, my friend and I sat down and waited for our coffee and snack to arrive. We were wondering if harissa had anything to do with hari (green) chutney. One bite told us otherwise. It was fiery hot with not a speck of green. My friend opened out her portion and scraped out what looked like at least a teaspoonful of chill flakes before eating it. We decided that we owed it to subsequent customers to enlighten the boy at the counter, so we did. He was most apologetic, which was not really the point. We both felt that whoever is selling a product should have accurate, basic knowledge of what he is selling.
Of course I came home and asked Googleji what harissa was.
According to Wikipedia: Harissa is a Tunisian hot chilli sauce commonly eaten in North Africa whose main ingredients are bird's eye chili peppers , serrano peppers and other hot chillis and spices such as garlic paste, coriander, red chili powder, caraway as well as some vegetable or olive oil. It is a standard ingredient of North African cuisine, most closely associated with Tunisia and Algeria but recently, commercially produced Harrissa also making it inroads into Morocco and the Arab Gulf countries, Egypt, Mashreq and Turkey.
It was really really hot and spicy. Well, now we know.