Zhug, Hot Yemenite Sauce

This is my version of the sauce, from my book Mediterranean Hot and Spicy

Zhug was brought to Israel by Yemenite Jews and is now the hot condiment of choice in Israel.  You will find zhug (also called z’ houg)  made with green or red chilies in falafel stands and in the kebab restaurants that serve shawarma –vertically skewered pieces of meat– accompanied by many different salads, spreads, relishes, and freshly baked pita bread. Zhug is made with fresh chilies, garlic and coriander, cardamom and other spices.  It is usually very hot, so you should start with a small amount.  Mixed with soaked and ground fenugreek, it becomes Hilbeh.  I prefer to make my zhug with green chilies, to distinguish it from the other red hot sauces of Eastern Mediterranean.

Photo by zoyachubby

OTHER USES:You can add a little Zhug to soups, pasta, and bean dishes, besides  serving it as a condiment with Falafel or any fried vegetable slices.  To make a delicious low-fat sauce or dip for vegetables, mix it with reduced or nonfat Greek yogurt.

Makes about 1 1/4 cup.

10-14 fresh green chilies, or jalapenos, seeded if you like, and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
6-8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground caraway seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seeds
1/2  teaspoon freshly ground green cardamom
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup packed parsley leaves
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2-4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Place the chilies, salt, garlic, caraway, cumin, cardamom, cilantro, parsley, pepper, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor or in a blender and pulse several times, until you get a smooth paste.  You will have to scrape down all the bits and pieces that stick to the sides of the bowl.

Pack in a jar and store in the refrigerator.  Zhug will keep for 1 to 2 weeks.  You can also freeze it, but it will lose some of its garlicky flavor.


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