Adam Marks, the owner and creative mind behind Mr Vikki’s consistently seems to hit the mark with his products, having been the recipient of the Fiery Foods UK Festival ‘ Best Chilli Jam or Sweet Chilli Sauce’ award and numerous ‘Great Taste’ awards over the past 6 years. Needless to say I was looking forward to trying Mr Vikki’s variant on a Harissa sauce when I received it through the post to review.
Harissa is a chilli sauce closley associated with North Africa and commonly found in countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, being used as an ingredient in many meat stews or as flavouring for couscous. Recipes from these regions usually favour the Africa Birds Eye chillies (also called Piri Piri) as a base for the sauce, with garlic and other spices such as coriander & cumin combined with some oil to make the final product. In their recipe, Mr Vikki’s have used Cayenne peppers supplemented with Red Savina to help give it an extra kick.
Chillies (50%), Garlic (20%), Sunflower Oil, preserved Lemon 10%, Spices, Mustard, Celery Salt
Jar kindly supplied by Mr Vikki’s
Opening the jar I can smell a rich aroma of chillies, mustard & garlic with citrus lemon high tones. The scent is somewhat akin to a Indian lime pickle but much less sharp. The sauce is a rich dark red colour and you can clearly see the high percantage off chilli pulp, seeds and all, therein. Indeed it’s more like a paste rather than a sauce.
As I add a few teaspoons of the Harissa to some fish and rice, the warmth from the food accentuates the citrus tones of the Harissa and it’s the lemon flavour that hits me first as I taste it. The peppery taste from the Cayenne chillies then come though supplemented with flavour of garlic. I think the use of preserved lemon has work really well here. It gives the Harissa rich, citrus tones and a lemon flavour that is mildly sweet yet without the bitter, sharp taste that you would get from fresh lemon. The strength and balance of aromas in the Harissa are such that they enhance the natural flavours of the food rather than overpowering them. The heat from the chillies isn’t over powering, so I find it gives a pleasant warmth to the dish, rather than any fiery burn.
Overall this is a great tasting sauce that could be used in a wide variety of dishes: stews, risotto’s, couscous, burgers, lamb – I’m even inclined to baste it on the chicken next time I’m cooking my Sunday Roast. Well recommended.
Available from Mr Vikki’s for £3.50 for a 110g jar.