I love spicy sauces. I mean seriously spicy. The West Indian spice sauces are quite the best. I spoon hot sauces on everything. I’m trying to cut it down now. As Indians, we are known for making everything spicy and full of strong flavors that really don’t allow the natural, delicate flavors to come through.

In southern India, where I’m from, our food is not spicy at all. Andhra Pradesh has extremely spicy food, but not so in Tamil Nadu, where I live. We eat a lot of rice and it’s accompaniments like rasam or sambhar, but all that is very mildly flavored, usually with a tempering of mustard seeds and cumin.

I’m wandering off. The reason I started this is to say that Indian food is misconceived to be always spicy. It’s really not. But I am always in search of a great hot sauce. So when I saw the recipe for a Yemenite hot sauce, Zhug, I simply had to try it. Now I keep a jar of red and green Zhug in the refrigerator and spoon it on everything . Seriously everything. I personally prefer the red, but that’s just because I like the taste of red chillies more than green. Spoon them both on, and it’s just like Christmas 🙂

Green Zhug

  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-6 green chillies, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups cilantro leaves and fine stems
  • 1/2 cup good quality olive oil

Using a mortar and pestle, grind the coriander seeds and cumin seeds to a fine powder. Add the green chillies, garlic and salt and grind to a paste.

Add the cilantro, a little bit at a time, and continue pounding and grinding to a rough paste.

Continuing to pound constantly, drizzle in the olive oil to form an emulsion. Season to taste with salt.

Zhug can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks.

Red Zhug

  • 1/4 lb spicy red chillies
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, leaves and tender stems
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Chop up the chillies (seeds and all). Rinse and chop up the cilantro leaves and stems.

Put the chillies, garlic, cumin, salt and lemon juice in a blender or food processor.

Add the cilantro. Pulse a couple more times. Make sure they retain some of their texture.

Stir in the olive oil. Store in the refrigerator.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s