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Harissa spices things up around town

Harissa, the fiery condiment comprised mostly of chiles, garlic, cumin and coriander, can be found on almost every home and restaurant table in Morocco. And now it's showing up all over LA: Mixed with honey, it gives Umami Burger's lamb burger an extra dose of flavor; harissa-spiked broth accompanies the cauliflower couscous at The Bazaar; at Chameau, the chef bottles his own and sells it in the restaurant.

Although Beverly Hills' new Cabbage Patch skews Mediterranean with local and organic ingredients, chef and owner Samir Mohajer creates some of his most down-home dishes with harissa–blended with ketchup, it makes a spicy dipping sauce for thick, sweet potato wedges; slathered on crisp Jidori chicken wings, it elevates bar food to haute cafe cuisine.

Mohajer, who isn't Moroccan but just "really likes" harissa, admits he'll use it in just about anything–on scrambled eggs, as a sandwich spread, or as a condiment for roast chicken and grilled steaks. With his recipe, it's time to explore.

Cabbage Patch Harissa

Makes approximately 4 cups

1 pound of dried chiles (1/4 pound each of chipotle, Anaheim, passilla and chile de arbol)

1 large onion, diced

4 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 cup tomato paste

3/4 cup sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 to 1/2 cup of olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons

Salt to taste

1. Place chiles in bowl and cover with boiling water for about 30 minutes. Drain, peel and seed the peppers (rubber gloves are helpful).

2. In pan, sautee onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until soft. Stir in coriander, cumin, both paprikas and cayenne pepper. Add brown sugar and cook for five minutes. Add tomato paste, cook another five minutes. Deglaze pan with sherry vinegar and reduce until almost dry. Cool mixture.

3. Combine vegetables and chiles in food processor, and pulse two or three times. While processing, drizzle in olive oil until smooth. Add lemon juice and salt to taste. Store in refrigerator for up to 10 days.

The Cabbage Patch, 214 S. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills; 310-550-8655 or cabbagepatchbh.com