Powerful harissa is a thick hot chilli paste characteristic of North African cooking. Spices such as caraway, cumin, coriander and garlic help to distinguish it from other chilli sauces made around the world. There is also a special variety flavoured with roses.

Making your own from dried red chillies is relatively easy, but whether making or shopping, try to keep quantities small because although it lasts a long time, a little goes a very long way.

Harissa is properly served alongside couscous dishes, in which case each diner stirs it into the accompanying stew to suit personal taste.

You can serve tiny dabs of harissa as a side sauce for grilled and roast meats and poultry, or use it as a general flavour booster for stews and sauces. It can also be spread lightly on bread.