Yemenite zhug


Here I am, making zhug, even though I’ve never really been a big fan. Not liking something has never kept me from trying to make it myself.

Plus, I find something intrinsically interesting about making condiments. Things like mustard and mayonnaise, they’re usually considered ingredients in their own right, something you get ready-made. But that doesn’t mean you need to take them as a given; they, too, can be made.

Zhug (סחוג), also written skhug or schug, is a Yemenite condiment, one you usually find topping falafel or hummus, or smeared in sandwiches. None of these are things I regularly eat, but I’m loving my zhug as a red-hot, super quick seasoning for orange soups.

With that said, for a hot pepper spread, zhug contains an awful lot of cilantro.

Traditionally, zhug is mashed together by hand — its name means “worn out” — but there’s none of that here. Mine goes straight into the blender.

I got the original recipe from Ynet, in an article about Middle-Eastern pepper spreads, and modified it to, um, work.

For a small jar’s worth:

25 grams dried red peppers
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 garlic cloves
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 bunch coriander (about 60 grams)
water to help things blend

First off, it’ll be much easier to get consistent results if your spices are ground. If not, crack them a bit in advance.

Remove the seeds and stems from the hot peppers, remembering to either wear gloves or not touch your face for several hours (if you lick your fingers, they’ll be surprisingly spicy).

Put everything into a blender (not a food processor). Add water until the mixture is liquid enough to blend smoothly. It should come out rather soupy.

That’s it!


Leave a Reply