Middle Eastern food has been on my mind for some time now. Thoughts of kebabs, Lebanese garlic sauce with roasted chicken, ajvar with anything, and kofta with fresh pita bread. You can see, I was up for making pretty much anything, but instead I wanted to make something for my wife, something she has never had in her lifetime. I will get into that story another time, but this one involves a condiment if you will, a relish possibly, or maybe we can just settle on calling this Middle Eastern yumminess. It’s called zhoug. Call it amazing. Call it fresh, mildy spicy, and call it full of great flavor.
(Pictured above: Fresh falafel with Zhoug for its companion)
I think of zhoug like I think of a chimichurri sauce, or maybe even a harissa. Simple ingredients yielding a perfect balance of herbal heat, a balance that just goes great with pretty much anything you put it on. Flatbreads to roasted chicken, even grilled vegetables; zhoug is here to please and you can mark my words on that. With that said, I am curious how you will use zhoug.
Let’s get started.
(Makes about 2 1/2 cups)
Ingredients: [Print this Recipe]
- 20 jalapeño peppers, stems removed, rough chop
- 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, washed
- 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, washed
- 5 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp caraway seeds, toasted, and crushed
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/4 cup of olive oil, plus 1 tbsp
You have a couple of options when making zhoug. Your first option is to use a large pestle and mortar and grind everything into your paste, or do as I do and add everything into a large food processor.
So do just that, add everything with the exception of the additional tablespoon of olive oil into a food processor, and pulse down into a course paste.
Transfer the zhoug into a large mason jar, or other glass jar, drizzle the tablespoon of olive oil on top, seal, and place in the refrigerator for up to a couple of weeks (if it lasts that long).
I’m not kidding when I say how wonderful the flavors are. You get that great herbal earthiness from the cilantro and parsley, with the subtlety from the cumin and caraway, and believe it or not, but you would think with all of those jalapeño peppers it would have this crazy amount of heat, well, it doesn’t, but it does play perfectly with the combination of ingredients. Zhoug is one of these sauces, or condiments, or whatever you want to define it’s texture, that goes well with anything.
Some ideas to use zhoug are to use it as a spread for sandwiches, a mix into a salad, toss in some warm pasta, a dip for vegetables or falafel in my picture, or heck, even soups. The possibilities are endless, and hence another reason to make zhoug. Give it a shot, I’m sure you will love it!