Chutneys, sauces, pickles and sambals you name it and I’ll probably love it. They really lift a meal whether you are eating modern British, Mexican, Indian, Levant or even having a simple sandwich for lunch. So when a pal mentioned whether I had heard of zhug, my response was yes, heard but not knowingly tried. He swore it was his go-to condiment, especially for BBQ, and sent me his favourite recipe for it.
The name ‘Zhug’ sounds rather cool you have to admit. Pass the zhug, if you please! Yes it definitely has a certain ring to it. It’s a Middle Eastern hot sauce originating from Yemen and then adopted by the Israelis when the Yemenite Jews fled to Israel. It has now become a staple condiment in Israeli cuisine and I can certainly see why.
When I looked through the ingredients it was not too dissimilar to chimichurri, chermoula or even salsa verde. There are many varieties using both green and red chillies, but I opted for the green variety today. Cumin, cardamom and caraway seeds are used and these are combined with both fresh coriander and parsley. It’s zingy, hot and fresh all at once and would work equally well with meats, fish or cheese. It takes minutes to prepare and can easily be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a week or two.
So do you have a go-to favourite condiment? My favourite – other than Zhug – is my Chipotle – see here.
Zhug – Yemeni Hot Sauce
adapted from Aglaia Kreme book ‘Mediterranean Hot and Spicy’
6 green birds eye chillies, seeds kept in (or removed if you prefer it less hot)
8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 tsp freshly ground caraway seeds
1tsp freshly ground cumin seeds
1/2 tsp freshly ground green cardamom
50g fresh coriander, leaves and stalks
50g fresh flat leaf parsley, leaves only
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
juice of 1 small lemon
100ml extra virgin olive oil
- Place the black pepper, caraway, cumin and cardamom seeds in a spice/coffee grinder to create a smooth powder.
- Then place all the ingredients into a blender and blender until smooth, adding the extra virgin olive oil a little at a time to loosen up the sauce.
- Store in a sterilised jar and place in the fridge until ready to use.
Great in sandwiches, with falafel wraps, BBQ meats and fish, over couscous – basically most things savoury.