Green Zhug: A Spicy and Flavorful Condiment You Need to Try

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green zhug
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I recently discovered a new favorite condiment: green zhug. This Middle Eastern sauce is packed with flavor and spice, and it’s incredibly versatile. Whether you’re using it as a dip for veggies or pita chips, a spread on sandwiches, or a marinade for meats, this zhug adds a delicious kick to any dish.

To make it, you’ll need a handful of ingredients, including cardamom pods, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, serrano chiles, garlic, kosher salt, parsley, cilantro, olive oil, and lemon juice. Don’t be intimidated by the long list of spices – most of them are pantry staples, and the result is well worth the effort. Plus, once you have the ingredients on hand, you can whip up a batch of the zhug in no time.

What Is Green Zhug

As a lover of spicy food, I am always on the lookout for new and exciting flavors. One such flavor that has recently caught my attention is green zhug. This is a spicy condiment that originated in Yemen and has since spread throughout the Middle East and beyond.

The main ingredients are fresh herbs, such as cilantro and parsley, along with garlic, chili peppers, and spices. These ingredients are blended to create a vibrant green paste that packs a flavorful punch.

It is incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. You can have it as a spread on sandwiches, use it as a marinade for meats, or add it to soups and stews for an extra kick of flavor. It also pairs well with yogurt or hummus, making it a great addition to any mezze platter.

One thing to keep in mind is that it is quite spicy. If you’re not used to spicy food, it’s best to start with a small amount and gradually increase the amount as you become more accustomed to the heat.

In summary, this is a delicious and spicy condiment that is perfect for anyone who loves bold flavors. Give it a try and see how it can spice up your meals!

Culinary Uses

As mentioned above, this is a versatile condiment that you can use in a variety of ways to add flavor and heat to dishes. Here are a few common culinary uses of this zhug:

Traditional Dishes

In Yemeni cuisine, it is often used as a dipping sauce for bread or as a condiment for grilled meats. It is also commonly used in soups and stews to add flavor and spice. In Israeli cuisine, the zhug is often served with falafel or as a topping for shakshuka.

Modern Adaptations

Zhug has become increasingly popular in modern cuisine. It is now used in a variety of dishes beyond its traditional uses. It can be used as a marinade for meat or vegetables or added to hummus or other dips. You can even use it as a spread on sandwiches or wraps.

Serving Suggestions

This zhug is best served fresh and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. It pairs well with grilled meats, roasted vegetables, and rice dishes. For a quick and easy meal, try mixing the zhug with Greek yogurt and using it as a sauce for grilled chicken or fish.


  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp of black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp of coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp of cumin seeds
  • 4 finely chopped serrano chiles
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • Kosher salt
  • ¾ cup of very finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup of very finely chopped parsley
  • ⅔ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tsp of fresh lemon juice

How to Make Green Zhug?

  1. Start by removing the cardamom seeds from the pods and toasting them with peppercorns, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds in a dry small skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl the spices often until they become fragrant, which takes about 2 minutes. Once toasted, transfer the spices to a spice mill or mortar and pestle and let them cool before finely grinding them.
  2. Next, put the chilies and garlic on a board, and add a good pinch of salt. Crush them into a paste using the side of a chef’s knife, or a mortar and pestle.
  3. After making the chile paste, move it to a small bowl and mix in the spices, parsley, cilantro, and oil. Add salt and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then, mix in lemon juice.
  4. If you want to make the sauce ahead of time, you can prepare it without the lemon juice and store it in the fridge for up to a day. Before serving, let it come to room temperature and then stir in the lemon juice.

Health Benefits

As a lover of spicy food, I have recently discovered the wonders of green zhug. Not only is it delicious, but it also has numerous health benefits. In this section, I will discuss its nutritional profile and dietary considerations.

Nutritional Profile

This zhug is made primarily of fresh herbs and spices, which means it is low in calories and high in nutrients. Some of the key ingredients include cilantro, parsley, and serrano chili peppers. These ingredients are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help improve overall health.

For instance, cilantro is a good source of vitamin K, which is important for bone health. It also contains antioxidants that can help protect against cellular damage and inflammation. Meanwhile, parsley is high in vitamin C, which is essential for immune function. Serrano chili peppers are a good source of capsaicin, which can help boost metabolism and reduce inflammation.

Dietary Considerations

While this is generally considered a healthy condiment, there are some dietary considerations to keep in mind. For one, it is spicy, which means it may not be suitable for individuals with sensitive stomachs or digestive issues. Additionally, some people may be allergic to certain ingredients, such as cilantro or serrano chili peppers.

If you are considering adding it to your diet, it is important to start with small amounts and monitor your body’s reaction. You may also want to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about how it may impact your health.

In conclusion, this is a flavorful and nutritious condiment that can provide a range of health benefits. By understanding its nutritional profile and dietary considerations, you can make informed decisions about how to incorporate it into your diet.

Cultural Significance

This Yemenite hot sauce has a rich cultural significance and has been enjoyed by people in the Middle East for centuries.

Origins and History

Zhug is believed to have originated in Yemen, where it was traditionally made with fresh herbs and spices. The sauce was often served alongside bread and hummus as a popular appetizer. Over time, the recipe for zhug has evolved and spread to other parts of the Middle East, including Israel, where it is now a staple condiment.

In recent years, it has gained popularity in the United States and Europe. There, it is often used as a spicy garnish for dishes such as falafel, shawarma, and grilled meats.

Regional Varieties

While the basic recipe consists of fresh herbs, garlic, and chili peppers, there are regional variations that add unique flavors to the sauce. In Israel, for example, zhug is often made with coriander, while in Yemen, it is made with cilantro.

Other variations include the addition of lemon juice, cumin, and cardamom like in this recipe, which give the sauce a tangy, earthy flavor. Some recipes even call for the use of dried chili peppers, which add a smoky, complex flavor to the sauce.

Buying a Pre-Made Options Guide

If you’re short on time or don’t want to make it from scratch, there are pre-made options available. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a pre-made green zhug:

  • Ingredients: Check the label to make sure the product contains high-quality ingredients and no artificial preservatives or additives.
  • Flavor: Look for a product that has a balanced flavor and isn’t too spicy or too mild.
  • Texture: Choose a product with a smooth, creamy texture that’s easy to spread or mix into your dish.

Experimenting with Flavors

While the classic recipe is delicious on its own, I also love experimenting with different flavors to create unique variations. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Citrus Zhug: Add the zest and juice of one orange or grapefruit to the classic recipe for a bright and tangy twist.
  • Herbaceous Zhug: Swap out the parsley for other fresh herbs like basil, dill, or oregano for a more herbaceous flavor.
  • Smoky Zhug: Add a pinch of smoked paprika or chipotle powder to the classic recipe for a smoky and spicy flavor.
  • Creamy Zhug: Mix the classic recipe with some plain Greek yogurt or sour cream for a creamy and tangy dip.

The possibilities are endless! Don’t be afraid to experiment and find your favorite flavor combinations.


In conclusion, green zhug is a delicious and versatile condiment that can add a flavorful kick to a variety of dishes. Whether you’re looking to spice up your eggs, sandwiches, or grilled meats, this is a great choice.

One of the things I love about it is its fresh and herbaceous flavor profile. The combination of cilantro, parsley, and jalapeños creates a bright and vibrant taste that’s perfect for adding some zing to your meals.

Another great thing about it is its versatility. You can use it as a marinade for meats, a topping for tacos, or a dip for veggies. The possibilities are endless!

Overall, I highly recommend giving green zhug a try. It’s easy to make at home and adds a delicious and unique flavor to any dish. So next time you’re looking to spice things up in the kitchen, reach for some zhug and let your taste buds do the talking.

As mentioned above, it pairs really well with hummus.
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