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Chermoula: A Spicy Kick for the Winter

Photograph by Christina Chavez

Have you heard of Chermoula? If not, you soon will because buzz for this North African condiment has been building and it’s popularity is ... about ... to ... EXPLODE!

Chermoula is mildly spicy, with a nice floral undertone that adds an interesting depth to food. Traditionally, chermoula is made with fragrant herbs and spices and is paired with fish. Bit chermoula works well with chicken, grilled meat and even vegetables.

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Like chimichurri, to which it is often compared, there is no one perfect recipe. Lemon, parsley and cilantro are almost always used. But from there, it’s really open to interpretation. Ginger, cumin and saffron each add a different dimension to this exotic sauce.

To provide some heat, (chermoula always needs a tiny bit of fire), I used a jalapeño pepper. But I’ve seen crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne or even harissa used to make chermoula.

In Morocco, where chermoula originated, a mortar and pestle is used to make the paste before adding in a bit of olive oil. A blender or small food processor works beautifully too, but only if you remember to pulse the mixture as you blend it, so the sauce has texture.

So catch the buzz and whip up some chermoula this weekend—and get ready for the explosion.

RECIPE: Chermoula

Yield: ½ cup

Prep Time: 10 minutes, plus 30 minutes (or more!) resting

Ingredients

  • 6 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley (leaves only)
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro (leaves only)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh jalapeño
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch saffron (optional)
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • ½ cup olive oil

Instructions

1. Place garlic, parsley, cilantro, jalapeño, cumin, salt, saffron (if using), lemon zest and juice in a blender and pulse 5 times until mixture is a thick paste. Mixture should not be smooth.

2. Pulse 5 more times as you slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube and the mixture becomes a thick sauce.

3. Remove Chermoula from the blender and place in a serving bowl. Let rest for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.

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