Bavel’s Harissa Prawns with Zucchini Tzatziki

Morita chiles are smoked Fresno chiles, and they give a deep smoky heat to the harissa marinade on these delicious spicy prawns. There are also anchovies and fish sauce for umami, orange zest for brightness, and a little sugar and honey to help the spice mixture caramelize on the grill. The final dish, one of our favorite things on our menu, has a bit of everything: acid, smoke, sweetness, spice, bitterness from the char, and a cooling creaminess from the tzatziki served alongside. Pick up a prawn with your hands, drag it through the tzatziki, eat the meat, suck the head, lick your fingers, and go back for more.

*We use New Caledonian blue prawns at Bavel. They feed on kelp, which gives them a vibrant blue color when raw, and when cooked, they turn a deep red-orange. You can use any good-quality prawns or large shrimp.

Bavel's Harissa Prawns with Zucchini Tzatziki



  • 4 dried morita chiles (may substitute dried chipotle)
  • 3 large dried california chiles, seeded
  • 1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and quartered
  • 4 Fresno chiles, stemmed
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 8 garlic cloves, grated with a Microplane
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 4 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1⁄2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground caraway
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, plus more for grilling
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1⁄4 pounds (1kg) whole prawns,* shells removed, heads and tails intact
  • Zucchini tzatziki (page 181) for serving (optional)
  • Fresh mint, dill, and Meyer lemon juice for garnish


  1. Step 1

    Place the morita and California chiles in a small heatproof bowl. Bring a kettle or small saucepan of water to a boil and pour over the chiles, submerging them. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes.

    Step 2

    In a blender, combine the bell pepper, Fresno chiles, soaked dried peppers, orange zest and juice, garlic, tomato paste, fish sauce, anchovies, honey, sugar, paprika, cumin, caraway, coriander, and salt.

    Step 3

    In another bowl, combine the grapeseed and olive oils.

    Step 4

    Slowly puree the pepper and chile mixture on medium speed, then stream in the oil mixture while mixing. Blend until smooth and thoroughly combined.

    Step 5

    Place the prawns into a large bowl. Wearing gloves, thoroughly coat the prawns on all sides with the pepper puree. Cover the bowl and marinate the prawns for 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator. (Do not marinate for any longer than 24 hours or the prawns will start to cure.)

    Step 6

    Preheat a charcoal or gas grill (see Grilling Guide on page 192). Remove the prawns from the refrigerator and lightly coat with grapeseed oil. Grill the prawns over medium heat until the marinade caramelizes onto the prawns and the color darkens, about 2 to 3 minutes, then flip and repeat on the other side. This should take 4 to 6 minutes total, depending on the size of the prawns.

    Step 7

    Transfer the prawns to a serving bowl. Serve with a bowl of tzatziki on the side (if using). Garnish with the mint and dill and a small squeeze of lemon juice.

Reprinted with permission from Bavel: Modern Recipes Inspired by the Middle East by Ori Menashe, Genevieve Gergis and Lesley Suter, copyright © 2021. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photographs copyright © 2021 by Nicole Franzen. Illustrations copyright © 2021 by Kathy Kim


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