Sunday, October 30, 2011


When I was living in New York I developed an outright addiction to both Maoz Vegetarian and the Hummus place. Both serve a version of Zhug, a middle eastern chile sauce with cilantro, garlic, and I think mint?!

Having moved back to Los Angeles this past August, I have been culinarily disheartened by only one thing by my return to the West Coast, the lack of this delicious green paste to smear liberally over the equally absent, super-rich Israeli style hummus. If we're being honest, I'm also a little disappointed in the falafel. Tell me, where is the best falafel in Los Angeles?

After spending nearly a month painting and getting settled in our palace of tininess, nestled in a cactus forrest in Echo Park, another month eating out in total jubilation between our birthdays and excitement over the sheer variety of AMAZING vegan restaurants in our 'hood and beyond, I'm ready to get back on the frugal bus and start cooking more regularly. So, I thought I'd get started with an old standard, and a chile sauce experiment to stir into it.

And, I have to say...I was ZHUGSESSFUL! Though it's missing a small dimension of flavor that the Hummus Place zhug has, I think I'm on the right track, and it is definitely delicious even without that final dimension of rootedness. I looked at a lot of recipes, but none of them included mint or cinnamon, both of which I am positive are in the hummus place zhug, so you'll see those additions here.

Make this. Stir it into simple soups, slather it on veggie burgers and falafel, use it in a wrap with some chickpea salad, through it on some quinoa and lentil salad...just go for it!

10- 12 green chiles (I used 4 jalepenos, 4 serranos, 1 red freson chile, and a big ass poblano.)
6- 8 large garlic cloves
1 teaspoon whole cumin
1 teaspoon whole caraway seeds
1 teaspoon ground cardamom (I think I would use whole cardamom and grind it fresh next time.)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup fresh parsely
1 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh mint
juice from one lemon
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon olive oil + more for roasting

Preheat the oven to 375. Rub half of the chiles with oil and roast them for 20 minutes, seeds in. De-seed and chop the other half.

Place the whole spices in a food processor and grind them until they are fine. Add in the garlic and pulse until it is well chopped. Next, add the raw peppers and blend until fine, then add the roasted peppers and blend until the mixture starts to become a paste. Then add in the fresh green herbs, lemon juice, and olive oil and blend the mixture until it forms a paste. You will have to scrape it down and blend repeatedly. Add the salt and agave nectar and blend to combine. Taste for salt and lemon.

This recipe makes about one cup. Store the zhug in the refrigerator, but remember it will probably only last for about one week.


  1. zhug sounds awesome! i'll be making some for sure.

  2. great! you'll have to let me know how it goes! i am already almost through this batch :)

  3. What if you don't have caraway seeds, is there any other spice that could substitute?

  4. I think they add something special, but you could change the flavor profile and use something else like dill or celery seed...Fennel could be cool, play around with it.