Harissa Lamb

Cook meter: Intermediate (only time wise)
Cost meter: $

I was given Neil Perry's "Things I Love to Cook" Cookbook as a going away present from my work when I left Melbourne. I loved Rockpool. We used to take clients there for lunch so I was lucky enough to sample their steaks quite a few times.

Harissa Lamb
Harissa Lamb and Quinoa Tabbouleh

I remember the first time I looked at the menu, as I was only 23 I was a little freaked out by the prices of the meals. I just ordered what everyone else ordered, grain fed eye fillet and when I tasted the steak I was totally blown away. I love meat, but I didn't realise that a piece of steak was physically capable of being so smokily delicious. Once my steak arrived, the immaculately dressed waiter stood in front of me and asked if I would like any condiments. A little nervous I said I would like to know what they were, and went with Harissa (I had no idea what it was) and Bernaise (one of my steak staples).

Harissa before adding Capsicum

The harissa was amazing, I was first hit by the smell of the cumin, then the heat from the chillies and left with a little bit of sweetness on my tongue. I later investigated what harrisa actually was and when I received my Neil Perry cookbook I went rifling through it to find the harissa recipe. To my delight the cookbook I have has, not one, but 3 harissa recipes. This is my favourite of the 3 and although I cannot replicate them like the mind-blowing paste they have at Rockpool, I think this is still something that you should try at home. In this recipe I have used it as a marinade for a butterflied piece of leg lamb on the BBQ.

Harissa paste end result

What I usually do when I go to the butcher is buy a 2kg leg of lamb and ask the butcher to butterfly it for me. I then either cook the whole thing on the BBQ if we have a lot of guests over or if I am cooking for 4 people on average I will split the butterflied lamb into 2 sections and freeze the portion I do not use immediately.


5 large hot Red chilli's (I used 5 large and 4 small, but we are chilli-crazy)
2 red capsicums grilled and skinned
2 Cloves Garlic
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seed
Sea salt
Olive Oil
600-800 grams of lamb (depends on how big a meat-eater you are really)


1. Chop up the chillies, and keep the seeds (I love spicy things, but I guess you could leave the seeds out if you want to)
2. Grill the 2 capsicums and then skin. A wee trick for skinning capsicums is while hot, put them into a plastic bag. This will sweat the capsicum and make it easier to peel the skin later.
3. Slice the capsicum finely.
4. Using a mortar and pestle (or a blender if you like) combine chillies, garlic, cumin, coriander. The end result should be a smooth paste. To tell you the truth I started with the mortar and pestle then got sick of it and used the blender for both of steps four and five.
5. Add the capsicum and combine adding more olive oil to get a smooth consistency.

Now for the lamb
6. I took half the harissa and spread it over the lamb and marinated it for an hour. If I had more time I would have left it for a couple of hours, but hey, I made this after work!
7. Sear the lamb on the BBQ (both sides) at a high temperature.
8. Once both sides are browned, turn the heat to medium and let it cook for another 10 minutes on each side. Your meat should be about rare (which is how we like it) but it depends on how thick the lamb is. Use a meat thermometer for best results.
9. Remove from the BBQ and let sit for 10 mins. Slice however thick/thin you want and serve with Quinoa Tabbouleh, a little natural yoghurt, and some more harissa for anyone who wants an extra kick.


  1. I had the pleasure slash privilege of trying the beautiful Meal pictured above. It was sooooooooooo delicious the Hot and BBQ flavour of the Lamb was perfectly balanced by the freshness of the Quinoa Tabbouleh! Keep up the good work Mel and the invites to taste. Next time I will hopefully pick a better vino.

  2. Thanks Lizzie, I may have to make it a permanent Tuesday tasting night, I'm going for either strawberry shortcake or Chocolate mousse next Tuesday.

  3. I am in love with harissa on lamb.

    True story - Harissa spiced lamb is the meal that won over my boyfriend Shane. He came over to my apartment to fix some things around the house on the condition I make him a nice lunch. From that meal onward we have been joined at the hip.

    I have never made my own harissa paste though..I think I might make it for our anniversary which is coming up soon.

    Thanks for sharing <3


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