Jason has been an online writer for over 12 years. His articles focus on everything from philosophy to delicious recipes.
Homemade Zhug (Skhug) Recipe
How do you pronounce סחוג? In modern Israeli Hebrew, it's pronounced s-kh-oog, as one syllable (the kh sound is the guttural consonant at the end of the Scottish word loch, and the oo rhymes with shoe, not wood). In Yemen, from where this delicious condiment hails, it's called: سحوق (pronounced sakhawak).
One of the most popular forms of casual dining in Israel is the falafel stand. For about 15 shekels (about $4) and in about three minutes, you can get a pita stuffed with falafel (fried garbanzo mash), pickled cabbage, hummus, tahini, and just a touch of an unassuming sauce called zhug (skhug), סחוג in Hebrew. Usually, zhug is served in a small dish with a spoon, so you can decide how spicy you'd like your falafel pita to be. Smear a thin layer across the inside of the pita, and your palate will glow. Spread a teaspoon or more, and you might have a psychedelic experience.
The most popular hot sauce in Israel, zhug is served with just about everything, especially with foods with origins in the Middle East. Hilbeh (fenugreek seed porridge) usually comes with a dollop of it. It always accompanies Middle Eastern salads like khtsilim pikanti (spicy eggplant), hummus, and roasted root vegetables, and it's also a favorite with fish, game, and meat dishes, such as shawarma, as well.
While it's not easy to find zhug outside Israel, it's also not very difficult to make. You can make a batch of it in about half an hour, and it keeps nicely in the refrigerator for several weeks.
|Prep time||Ready in||Yields|
1 1/2 cups (approx. 200 grams)
- 3 bunches cilantro (fresh coriander), washed and spun dry
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 small hot red peppers, stems removed
- 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) cardamom, ground
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) cumin, ground
- 1 teaspoon (6 grams) salt
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) pepper, ground
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil
- Use a food processor, blender, or meat grinder to shred the cilantro.
- Add the juice of 1 lime and the 1/2 cup of olive oil and pulse into a green paste.
- Add the garlic and pulse until incorporated.
- Add the red chilis and pulse until rendered into small red flecks in a sea of bright green. It's okay if there are visible seeds.
- Add the cardamom, cumin, salt, and pepper, and blend until uniform.
Yes, it really is that simple! Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks or for up to 6 months in the freezer.
Zhug is traditionally served with falafel, shawarma, and hilbeh, as well as just about anything else Israelis eat where a dash of piquance is desired. However, you can also add it to:
- pilafs and other rice dishes
- chicken and game
- steak, as a hotter alternative to chimichurri
Greg K. on April 17, 2014:
This stuff is excellent and addictive. I used to live in Israel and every pay day my friends and I would go to Sterns Steak House order humus/tahini, a nice porterhouse steak and top it with a thick layer of zhug.
Leack from Down to earth on December 01, 2012:
thanks for sharing, i will have to try it
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on October 05, 2012:
Hey K9: Thank you! I remember your felafel recipe and for such an outstanding recipe, I think this would be a befitting complement, especially if you like spicy and garlicky! (I do) Always a pleasure to get a comment from you. :) HubHugs and (Shabbat) Shalom!
India Arnold from Northern, California on October 01, 2012:
The beauty of the middle East comes to HubPages! I can't wait to try your zhug recipe! I made felafels recently with my homemade pitas, hummus, veggies, and tahini; wish I had your zippy zhug recipe then! Would have been just about as authentic as one can get being this far away from Israel! Lovely job my friend! Up and sharing!
HubHugs and Shalom~
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on September 23, 2012:
Simone: Indeed it is! Have fun with it. :)
Lyricallor: It's a great accompaniment to falafel if you want it to have a little "kick"! Thank you for your comment.
Drbj: You can start seeing stars if you eat too much! But in smaller quantities it is delicious. Thanks for dropping by.
vespawoolf: Good question! I don't think the cardamom is an absolutely element, but maybe a little curry powder instead would make for an interesting, and still just as delicious, variation. Thank you!
Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on September 23, 2012:
After reading your article, I'm ready to hit the falafel stand! Too bad we don't have any here in Peru. : ) I do make Mediterranean food at home, though, so I'm thrilled to have your recipe for zhug. We have all the ingredients except the cardamom. I wonder if I could sub a little high-quality curry that contains cardamom? I've marked this for future use. Thanks!
drbj and sherry from south Florida on September 22, 2012:
Hi, ll, Love the way you described eating too much zhug could produce a psychedelic experience. Wow!
Lorna Lorraine from Croydon on September 21, 2012:
Thank you so much for sharing this. It was also a good read. I love falafel, and now I learned about a new accompaniment
Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on September 21, 2012:
I've never heard of this before- and I've also never made my own hot sauce before! Totally want to try this recipe. It'll be a great excuse for me to pull out my now neglected food processor. :)
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on September 20, 2012:
It is delicious! Alas, the two jars I made this afternoon are already spoken for. Fortunately, it's easy to make. Maybe for the next cheese tasting?
MickiS from San Francisco on September 20, 2012:
Yum! Sounds like someone needs to bring some to the office!