If you're a spice lover, chances are you've jumped on the harissa train. The smoky North African chili paste has become a menu mainstay thanks to the simple fact that it makes pretty much any food better. From mom's meatloaf to mom's bloody Mary (mom doesn't mess around!), it's now a staple of markets nationwide.
A good harissa paste -- we recommend Entube and cHarissa -- has a depth and balance that makes it an extremely versatile condiment. The heat buildup should be gradual (it shouldn't immediately overwhelm you with heat like a hot sauce might), punctuated by the smoky flavor of the roasted peppers and spices like the typical cumin, paprika, and coriander.
So what should you do to maximize your harissa experience, short of snorting it? Start with these nine incredible recipes that explore the wide range of harissa's appeal.