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Thu 30 Nov 2017 22:27:34 PST
“Zhug” or “skhug” is a wonderful Yemenite spicy sauce that's traditionally served with falafel. Of course today we use it for any dish that its spicy flavor will compliment.

Two methods of preparation are presented, the way it was done in the old days before today's conveniences ("classic" section), and making the sauce in the modern kitchen using a food processor ("contemporary" section).


  • coriander, whole* 1/4 tsp
  • cumin, whole* 1/2 tsp
  • cardamom pods, seeds, toasted* 3
  • freshly ground black pepper 1/4 tsp
  • garlic, roughly chopped 4 cloves
  • chilies, fresh Thai, chopped† 4 to 6
  • salt 1/2-1 tsp
  • parsley, cilantro, fresh 2 oz (2 cups)
  • extra-virgin olive oil 1/2 cup
  1. Combine coriander seed, cumin, black pepper, and cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle and grind into a powder using a firm, circular motion.
  2. Add garlic, chilies, and salt and pound into a rough paste.
  3. Add cilantro and parsley one small handful at a time and continue pounding into a rough paste. (By the time you're done, there should be no pieces of chilies or herbs larger than 1/8 inch remaining.)
  4. Continue grinding and slowly drizzle in olive oil to form an emulsion.
  5. Jump to "Serving and storing" below.
Alternative contemporary method:
Same ingredients but with ground spices instead of whole:
  • coriander, ground 1/4 tsp
  • cumin, ground 1/2 tsp
  • cardamom, ground 1/4 tsp
  1. Place spices, garlic, chiles and salt in a food processor. Pulse several times.
  2. Divide cilantro and parsley into 4-5 batches then add one batch at a time through the feed tube. Process to get a coarse blend.
  3. While processor is running gradually add the olive oil. The mixture should emulsify fairly quickly.
  4. When ingredients look more or less evenly mixed, consider it done.
  1. Regardless of preparation method, Zhug can be served immediately or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks.
*If whole coriander, cumin or cardamom aren't available, substitute ground spices.

†Thai chiles can be red or green, it's a matter of taste. If not available you could use just about any hot chiles, for example, fresh serrano chiles. Dried chile de arbol works, remove stems (and optionally seeds), and tear into small pieces.

If you have the time, equipment and physical ability, it's worth trying both methods. You might like the mortar and pestle version better. While its texture is slightly coarser and less uniform, hand grinding exerts greater tearing and crushing force on the ingredients potentially extracting more intense flavor from them. Naturally mileage varies quite a bit—try it both ways to find out how much difference you notice.

Categories: middle-east sauces

About Thinair Recipes

Recipes developed with low-sodium diets in mind—so easy to use!

Here's a quick guide:
Recipes have one or more “boxed” ingredient lists grouped with step-by-step instructions, for example:

  • garlic, chopped 3 cloves
  • chicken stock 2 cups
  • ...other ingredients...
  1. Saute garlic in oil until soft.
  2. Add chicken stock to pan...
  3. step...

Ingredient boxes show what you'll need for the numbered steps. Not too complicated!

BTW “salt” in our recipes refers to salt substitute, i.e., potassium chloride, KCl. (Since KCl may not be healthy for some people, ask your doctor if it's OK for you to use it.)