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Warm rose petal and roast tomato harissa

I love the warm heat of harissa paste and find it endlessly useful – in marinades and salad dressings, as a sauce for oily fish or halloumi cheese. It is one of my store cupboard essentials.

In the summer, alongside general spicy harissas, I often make a rose harissa – a paste where a floral subtlety underlies the heat.

This recipe uses garden roses – the more fragrant the better – and roast tomatoes alongside the chillies and spices. It has a beautiful mellow heat rather than a ‘blow your head off’ spice. You can, of course, add in more chillies if you wish. Some people add garlic in, but I find it can be a little overpowering with the roses. You can also add in coriander seeds and paprika.

It is a great way of using roses that have been hit by a rain shower, alongside a glut of tomatoes.

Please only use roses that you absolutely know have not been sprayed with anything – this isn’t the time to use up shop bought flowers. You might also want to wash them carefully in case of greenfly or other bugs.


  • 300g tomatoes (this is about 8-10 decent sized tomatoes)
  • 150g red chillies – again, this is relative. I used six of the large fairly mild red chillies. It is all a matter of taste.
  • 1tbsp rape seed oil.
  • ½ tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 large handfuls of rose petals (when tumbled loosely into a measuring jug, this is about up to the litre mark. I used five full flowers)
  • 1tbsp rose flower water.
  • 1 ½ tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil


  • Oven
  • Food processor
  • Baking tray
  • Sterilised jar (the easy way to sterilise a jar is to put it through the dishwasher then use while still warm)


Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4/350F/180C.

Half tomatoes and put them and the chillies on baking tray, drizzle over the oil and swish it about a bit.

Cook in oven until the tomatoes are slightly charred around the edges. This will probably take around 40 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool.

Chop the stalks off the chillies and scrape out the seeds. Put tomatoes and chillies in food processor and pulse to combine. You can also do this with lots of chopping if you prefer.

Add in the sugar, spices, rosewater and the rose petals and pulse again. You want a chunky paste.

Finally, transfer to a bowl. Add in the red wine vinegar a tiny bit at a time, interspersed with a splash of olive oil. Mix and taste as you go.

You are looking for a warm spicy flavour, not too hot, not too acidic.

When you are happy with the balance of flavours, spoon into a sterilised jar and store in the fridge for up to a month.

You can also freeze the paste for up to a year – put it into ice cube trays, freeze and then decant into freezer bags for ease. You can then just defrost a cube or two you need them.

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