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Zhoug – a fresh and spicy sauce from Yemen

  • Author: Julie Cockburn
  • Yield: about 1 cup 1x


Zhoug, a vibrant green cilantro-based sauce from Yemen, is both fresh and fiery. It’s layered with flavor, from earthy cumin, to aromatic coriander, to bright orange zest. Put a dollop on eggs, spread a bit on a sandwich, or use it as a dip, and enjoy the zingy and aromatic flavors of the Middle East!


  • 1 bunch cilantro (about 2 1/2 ounces), roughly chopped
  • 1/2 bunch parsley (about 1 1/4 ounces), roughly chopped
  • 2 or 3 hot peppers, such as serrano or jalapeño, roughly chopped – use more or less as your heat tolerance dictates
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Zest of half an orange
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • Splash of water, if needed


  1. Place everything except the water in a food processor or blender. Pulse several times until everything is well combined with a texture similar to pesto – a slightly chunky paste. Alternately, make your zhoug by chopping everything very finely with a knife, or by bashing everything together in a mortar and pestle.
  2. Add a splash of water if you want to thin the texture a bit.
  3. Give it a taste, and add additional salt if desired.
  4. Zhoug will keep well in the refrigerator for several days.


For the best flavor, use fresh, whole spices, and grind them just before use. You can grind fresh spices in a coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle. I personally rarely buy pre-ground spices, as the flavor is soooo much better when you grind them to order. Give it a try – you’ll be amazed at how much more flavor you can get from your spices!

Bringing the zhoug together is easiest in a food processor or blender, but can certainly be done by hand. A sharp knife and a little patience will yield a chunky sauce, as will a heavy-duty mortar and pestle. If you use a food processor or blender, try to use a light hand. You want a thick, slightly chunky paste, like pesto, rather than a perfectly smooth and runny sauce.

  • Category: Sauce
  • Cuisine: Yemen
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