Yemeni Zhoug Sauce with a Smokey Twist
What is Zhoug?
Zhoug (which has many various spellings, including Zhug, Schug, Zhoog, and more), is a spicy Yemeni herb sauce that is extremely well-known in Israel, but is also gaining increased popularity in the US due to it’s addition to Trader Joe’s line of condiments. It is most commonly used as a sauce to serve alongside falafel, but it is incredibly versatile and can be used as everything from a dips and topping to marinades and dressings.
Zhoug is similar to chimichurri or pesto in that it is primarily derived of fresh herbs, especially cilantro and parsley. This yields a sauce that is vibrant and bright green. We added some mint to ours for extra flavor brightness. It also contains heat by way of chile peppers. We kept ours slightly mild with just a single jalapeño and some chipotle chile powder. The spices we utilized in our sauce are also minimal, with just a bit of sea salt and fresh-ground seeds of coriander, cumin, and cardamom (and garlic, of course).
Zhoug is a fantastic sauce to keep on hand in the summer, pairing beautifully with all of those grilled and smoked meals you will be enjoying on warm evenings.
How to Make Smokey Yemeni Zhoug Sauce
- ½ bunch cilantro
- 1 bunch parsley
- 6-8 sprigs of mint
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 jalapeño
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- Seeds of 5 cardamom pods
- ¾ teaspoon cumin seed
- juice of 1 ½ lemons
- ½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
- ⅓ cup water
- Lightly toast your cumin and coriander seeds in a hot pan.
- Using a mortar and pestle, crush your cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and cardamom seeds into a fine powder.
- Using a food processor or blender, blend together your garlic, spices, sea salt, and lemon juice.
- Add the cilantro, mint, parsley, jalapeño, water, and chile powder and pulse, drizzle in the olive oil little-by-little.
- Serve alongside falafel, spooned atop grilled lamb, as a condiment for fried or scrambled eggs, over roasted cauliflower, as a marinade for kabobs, or anything your heart desires.