Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hot and Spicy - Zhug

Zhug, is a crucial ingredient in the Yemenite cuisine. It's a hot sauce (paste) popular in Middle Eastern cuisine and is almost a "must to have" on every table in Israel. No Yemenite will sit down at the table unless a jar of Zhug is present.... and the same goes for my husband who is as far from being a Yemenite as possible (a kiwi bloke) but is highly addicted to the spicy paste. My husbands "romance" with Zhug started in Israel (of course) a few years back by mistake ;) when he put too much on his dish as though it was simply a light spicy tomato paste... quickly he found how hot the spice was when hot steams started arising from his head and mouth and his face changed colour to so many shades of red. The hot effect did not last long and the romance began ;) - now, a day will not pass without him having Zhug ;)

Zhug can be eaten with pretty much anything - with Hummus, on a bit of cheese or ham (salami), you can even use it and add hot & spiciness to much of your cooking.
There are two types of Zhug: Green Zhug which is based on green chillies and coriander and Red Zhug which is mainly based on red chillies.
The recipe below is for green Zhug which is my favourite. You can make it and add your own variations - it's up to you to add more or less of the ingredients as you like and to your taste.

Green Zhug

4-6 Hot Green Chillies
1-2 Hot Red Chili
2-4 Cloves
3-4 Cardamom pods
1-2ts Cumin powder
5-10 Garlic cloves (peeled)
1 cup of roughly chopped Coriander leaves (remove stems)
2 spoons of Olive Oil
Salt to taste

How to:
Mix all ingredients in a food processor and grind to a paste. Store in the fridge.