Mediterranean Harissa Stew (Vegan)

Harissa is a Tunisian hot chili sauce made of fiery chili peppers, spices, garlic, herbs and oil and used in North African and Moroccan cooking.

vegan harissa stew

It can be used in couscous, vegetables, meat alternative, sandwiches, pizza, tofu, or even as spread or dip. Use it on anything!


  • 2 tablespoons refined coconut oil, at room temperature
  • 1 medium sweet onion, peeled and minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1½ tablespoons harissa
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 pound (or 450g) large purple sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ¼ teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, fire roasted
  • 4 cups vegan ‘chicken’ broth
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bell pepper (yellow or red), seeded and diced
  • 2 cups cooked Israeli cous cous, farro, orzo or freekeh
  • Handful of Italian parsley, finely chopped, for garnish
  • Finely grated lemon zest, for garnish
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for garnish


Healthiest Vegan Recipes

Heat a round, heavy skillet or Dutch oven (5½ quart) over medium heat. Melt the coconut oil in the pot. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in ground cumin, ground coriander, curry powder, cinnamon stick, harissa and tomato paste and sauté for 2 minutes longer.

Add the carrots, purple sweet potatoes, salt, black pepper, crushed tomatoes. Cook, stirring, for about a minute, until fragrant, and add the broth and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, and simmer until the sweet potatoes and carrots have cooked down slightly, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low, simmer uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the Israeli cous cous or grains, grate lemon rind; chop parsley.

Add the saffron threads and chickpeas to the pot. Reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid. Simmer 10 minutes. Add the yellow bell pepper and cook another 2 minutes.

Remove bay leaves and cinnamon stick before serving and add cous cous or your favorite grain. Ladle into bowls and top with chopped parsley (if desired), grated lemon zest and a drizzle of olive oil.


The stew is moderately spicy. For very spicy, use 2 to 2½ tablespoons harissa. For mildly spicy, use 1 tablespoon harissa.

Purple Sweet Potato substitutions: Any potatoes, squash, pumpkin, turnips, or cauliflower. If you are using winter squashes or butternut, I recommend steaming them and adding them in the end.

Chickpea substitutions: Use canned Cannellini, Great Northern and Navy beans if you like, but add them at the same time as the sweet potatoes & carrots and the beans will absorb the flavors of spices while cooking.

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