A spicy chile paste found commonly in the cuisines of North Africa, harissa is essentially the curry of the region. You can find it at most megamarts these days, but it just tastes better when you make it yourself. Toasted spices like cumin and coriander certainly give the paste plenty of flavor, but its signature smoky essence comes from a unique ingredient: dry chiles. I prefer the Aleppo from northern Syria, but it has become hard to find due to the civil war that has besieged the land. The Urfa, with its dusky, deep flavor and slow burn, is an excellent substitute and the secret to my harissa's success. This recipe first appeared in Season 1 of Good Eats: The Return.
Toast the cumin, coriander, and caraway in a dry cast-iron skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the olive oil, garlic, onion, and salt. Cook until the garlic begins to brown, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the Urfa biber and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the red wine vinegar and cook 2 minutes more.
Transfer the mixture to a food processor fitted with a standard S-blade and process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Store in a tightly sealed glass container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.