Harissa: why it’s the hottest condiment around

For instant spice, look to this storecupboard sensation

Fiery harissa – made with dried chillies, caraway, oil and garlic – is the ultimate way to add heat. Rooted in North African cuisine, you’ll find it mixed with everything from oil as a condiment, spread sparingly on crusty bread as a sandwich base (great with hard-boiled eggs, pickles and tuna or chicken) or stirred through scrambled eggs with merguez sausages for a spicy breakfast.

Looking to add instant pep to soups and tagines? Turn in the harissa direction. Thinking of serving a creamy yet spicy dip or dressing? Add harissa to yogurt and crème fraîche. After a glowing glaze for a stunning piece of meat or fish? No problem, mix harissa into softened butter and coat accordingly. Not matter how many ways you say it, harissa is great – here are a few recipes to prove it:

Harissa chicken and vegetable traybake with cauliflower couscous

A combination of no-carb couscous and roasted veggies make this dish one that’ll help you on your way to 10-a-day. Slashing the skin of the chicken supreme allows the creamy coating to moisten the meat, making it succulent, flavoursome and truly delicious. Plus, there'll be some leftover for the next day and that’s always a bonus.

Smoked mackerel and harissa mayo pitta breads

Pair harissa with zesty orange slices, peppery watercress and rich mackerel fillets – high in essential omega 3 – for a light lunch that scores points for taste and nutrition. Easily transportable for days out (just wrap them in tin foil), these handy sandwiches have just the right level of salt and heat. Pitta pockets have never looked so cute.

Easy lamb tagine

Offset beautifully by the sweetness of dried apricots, this easy dish is one for the weeknight recipe book. Tender lamb rests on a bed of fluffy couscous with all the rich sauce a tagine could need – you want seconds? We could’ve guessed.

Spicy lentil, vegetable and harissa soup

Lentils – a great (and cheap) source of protein, vitamins and minerals – and vegetables are given a punchy lift in this wonderfully thick soup. Make and freeze ahead of time for those occasions when you need food on the table fast or as a quick starter for unexpected guests.

Moroccan lamb burgers with charred red onions and harissa mayo

Spice-laced mayo is the ideal accompaniment to this barbecue classic; ginger, cumin and coriander provide a different element to your standard beef-bun combo. Eat standing up, laying on grass, sitting at a table – whichever you choose, this is a no-cutlery, hands-on kind of meal.

We’ve got our eye on another wonder product this month. Thought tahini was just hummus’ sidekick? Think again, this ingredient has a lot more to it than first meets the eye…