For many, the chief of the hot-sauce game is Huy Fong Sriracha – the clear, squeezy bottle adorned with the symbol of a strutting rooster. It’s ubiquitous in cafes and restaurants everywhere. For us at Hey Tucker, though, we’re hedging our bets and jumping ship to the new kid on the block. Enter zhug. A piquant, bright green purée that has its origins in Yemen, and is found in almost all Yemeni Jewish kitchens around the world.
The authentic Yemeni zhug is made from either fresh red or green chillies, garlic, fresh herbs, cumin, cardamom, caraway and other spices that are placed into a mortar and pestle and ground to a paste – the old-school way. We like to speed things up a little and blitz everything up in a food processor.
Zhug is served at falafel stands, kebab restaurants and stalls that serve shawarma –skewered and roasted pieces of meat – alongside an array of salads, relishes, pickles, dips and freshly baked pita bread (of course). It’s the perfect hot condiment for all your summer barbeque cook-ups, as well as adding interest and excitement to soups, drizzled over roasted vegetables, or swirled through hummus (our personal favourite).
Makes about one cup.
6 green chillies (seeded if you prefer a milder zhug), roughly chopped
4 whole garlic cloves
2 tsp freshly ground caraway seeds
1 tsp freshly ground cumin seeds
1 tsp freshly ground green cardamom
1/2 tsp freshly ground coriander seeds
1 bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Juice of 3–4 lemons
2 tbsp olive oil
Place all the ingredients except for the lemon juice and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor or blender and pulse several times, until you achieve a coarse paste.
Add the lemon juice and olive oil and mix to a smooth, thick, pouring consistency. You might have to scrape down the sides of the food processor a few times to make sure you combine all the ingredients well.
Transfer zhug to a sterilised jar, cover the top with a little olive oil and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.