We all need a bit of hot stuff in our lives right? So look no further than the Yemenite hot sauce, commonly known as ‘Zhoug’ or ‘Zhug’ when you need to jazz up your lunch or supper. Its cousins would be Argentinian ‘chimichurri’, Moroccan ‘chermoula’, Italian ‘salsa verde’ and Indian ‘coriander chutney’. It takes seconds to whip together – yes really – and lasts for a few days in the fridge in a sealed jar.
I made a batch today, which I whizzed up in my mini-blender and then drizzled it over my lunch. It is made up of fresh parsley and coriander, freshly roasted cumin seeds, which I then ground to a powder, lemon juice, olive oil, water, salt, sugar, garlic, crushed cardamom seeds and a couple of jalapeño chillies. Simple hey. So zingy and fresh with just the right heat. You can add more chillies if you want to bring up the heat levels, but I think 2 jalapeños really hits the right note for me.
My lunch itself was easy as it literally cooked itself. I popped a sweet potato, some tomatoes – halved, chickpeas rubbed in smoked paprika in the oven for 40 mins at 180 degrees fan. I then sliced up some courgettes and pan fried them for a few minutes and then hey presto. I had some of my homemade hummus in the fridge so added a dollop of that and then drizzled my zhoug on top. If I had had some Aleppo red pepper flakes I would have added a pinch of those on top too.
30g fresh coriander, leaves and stalks
20g fresh parsley, mainly leaves
2 jalapeño chillies, seeds removed (but keep them in if you want it hotter)
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp salt flakes
pinch of sugar
1 tsp cumin seeds, dry roasted and then ground to a powder
3 green cardamom pods, husks removed and seeds crushed
- In a saucepan dry roast the cumin seeds for a minute so they begin to bronze and the aroma is released. Allow to cool and then blend to a powder using a pestle and mortar or blender.
- Using a mini-blender add the fresh herbs, ground cumin, crushed cardamom seeds, lemon, salt, sugar, water and olive oil. Blitz to form a smooth paste. Add a little more water as required to make it runnier.
- Keep in a sealed container in the fridge and use within a few days.
Roasted Sweet Potato, Chickpeas, Courgette and Tomatoes
1 large sweet potato, kept whole, but pierced with a fork
5 medium tomatoes, halved
olive oil to drizzle
1x 400g jar of chickpeas, strained and washed
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp salt flakes
1 courgette, peeled to give a striped effect
1 tbsp of hummus per serving
extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees fan. You want to cook the sweet potatoes and tomatoes for 40-45 minutes.
- Keep the sweet potato whole, with the skin on. Prick the skin with a fork a few times.
- Slice the tomatoes and place them in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle with olive oil and salt flakes, then add the sweet potato to the preheated oven.
- Drain the chickpeas and then dry them with some kitchen roll before adding the smoked paprika. Mix in well and then place them in the oven 10 minutes after the sweet potato and tomatoes have been cooking.
- In a saucepan, add a little oil and then add the sliced courgettes. Allow them to begin to bronze and then remove. This will take between 5-7 minutes.
- To plate up, remove the skin from the sweet potato (optional) and slice up. Add some to a bowl along with some chickpeas, courgette, tomatoes. Add a dollop of hummus and some zhoug and finally a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.