Spice Stalls at Mahane Yehuda Market In Jerusalem, Israel (What Kind of Harissa Is This?)

Zatar Spice Mixture

One of the things I look forward to most when touring other countries is to see the spice markets. In Delhi, my driver / guide and I braved one hour of traffic to go about 1.5 Km from where we were to Khari Baoli market and then we had to park in an underground garage that was so crowded that the attendants had to move cars around like a puzzle to fit each new one in!

By comparison the spice stalls at Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem are pretty laid back, just the usual shoving and good natured shouting. I only bought a couple of things, some super-fresh green zatar (above) that tastes most strongly of thyme and sesame, and incredible dry harissa:

Dry Harissa Spice Mixture

I’ve only been familiar with harissa in the sauce form, but we are pretty sure that is what the man called it. I don’t know if it is intended to be soaked to make a harissa sauce or used as a rub or garnish, but in any case it is delicious. It is quite hot and has an intense flavor of roasted dry chilis, with strong herbal undertones, and very beautiful to look at. If anyone can correct me on the name of this mixture or its uses, please add a comment!

Various Chilis

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Posted by Michael Natkin on Friday, September 14th, 2007 in Travel.

9 Responses to “Spice Stalls at Mahane Yehuda Market In Jerusalem, Israel (What Kind of Harissa Is This?)”

  1. Reply
    September 15, 2007 at 5:03 pm #

    zaatar is hyssop, not thyme.

  2. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    September 16, 2007 at 5:20 am #

    It can be hyssop, thyme, or a variety of other herbs. See this wikipedia entry for more info.

  3. Reply
    December 13, 2008 at 7:51 am #

    Can I go herb shopping with you? 😀 Lovely photos! It’s been a while, do how did you finally use the harissa mix? I’d probably add a little oil and red wine vinegar to it and baste it over chicken skewers.

  4. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    December 13, 2008 at 1:25 pm #

    It might sound funny but my favorite things have been to sprinkle a bit on pizza or dip bread into olive oil and then the spice mix..

  5. Reply
    May 30, 2009 at 7:40 am #

    You can order dry harissa from Victorian Epicure (http://www.epicureselections.com) or make your own. This recipe is one I googled (it is originally from Art Culinare, September 22, 2008 though I got it off Access my Library)and lists only the ingredients. Presumably you roast the spices individually just till they release their fragrance, then set aside and grind them in a mortar and pestle or spice-only coffee grinder.
    The harissa mix:
    4 dried ancho chilis, toasted and ground
    1 dried New Nexican chile, toasted and ground 2 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted and ground 2 tablespoons caraway seeds, toasted and ground
    1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
    2 tablespoons dry mint 2 tablespoons paprika

    I like this spice blend with fish, chicken and any kind of lentils or beans.

  6. Reply
    February 12, 2010 at 1:26 pm #

    Mix 1/2 cup dry harissa spice mix with 1/2 extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 cup water in the blender. Voila! Instant harissa sauce. Mix it with just the olive oil: harissa paste!

  7. Reply
    February 22, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    It is also referred to as zatar. i find it to be simply divine in hummus…

  8. Reply
    Lisa Winton
    May 28, 2019 at 8:51 am #

    I am trying to replicate a spice mix from the Israeli markets. It has slivered almonds, maybe currants and a green spice mix. Any idea of what it is?

    • Reply
      May 28, 2019 at 8:53 am #

      Hmm, nope, no idea, but maybe another reader will know.

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