Status Ingredient

Fiery harissa is a must-have pantry staple

Harissa 101: A spicy paste made with dried chiles, garlic, coriander and caraway seeds, harissa is a staple of Tunisian and Moroccan cuisines. Chefs love its mellow heat and smoky complexity and are incorporating it into everything from rubs to sauces.

In Action: The chickpea whiz-kids at Taïm make a harissa-flavored version of their much-adored falafel. Astoria's Little Morocco has a cult following for its messy and delicious merguez sandwich sauced with extra-spicy harissa. And Barbounia's new chef Efraim Nahon sells fragrant, house-made harissa at front of the restaurant.

At Home: Mix store-bought harissa (Mustapha's Moroccan is our favorite brand) into Greek yogurt to make an easy dip for pitas and vegetables or a quick sauce for roasted chicken and grilled salmon. Thin it out with a little olive oil for a versatile marinade, or spread it directly on top of grilled meat. For brunch a spoonful makes for brilliant scrambled eggs and adds a wicked kick to Bloody Marys.