Skip to content

Condiment Heaven from Yemen

A moment of panic: I hit a raw vegetable wall. I was just sick of every one of them. I depend on baby bell peppers, carrots, and all their friends to get me through snack attacks, and so the situation was dire. It was almost bad enough – or good enough – to take my mind off our country’s descent into totalitarianism. But I digress. Dipping vegetables in hummus wasn’t helping, no matter which of the two thousand flavors I tried. Salsa isn’t my thing.  So when I was in Trader Joe’s recently and noticed a completely new (to me) condiment, I was intrigued.

Zhoug (pronounced “zoog”) is a spicy cilantro-based sauce that’s originally from Yemen. It’s a lot like chimichurri, except for one unexpected ingredient: cardamom. I’m currently obsessed with this stuff. The Trader Joe’s version is very spicy – which I love – but you can tone it down by combining it with hummus or yogurt. Or, you can make this easy version and just add less jalapeño:



  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, sliced in half and seeded

  • 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 1 bunch cilantro, including stems

  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 1 teaspoon cumin 

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive 

  • 2 Tsp fresh lime or lemon juice


  • With the motor running in a food processor, add the peppers and garlic. Process until nothing more happens.

  • Add cilantro, cardamom, and cumin. Process until the cilantro is finely chopped. Add the olive oil and juice. Process until combined.

  • Add more juice &/or oil for a lighter taste or texture. 

You can store the zhoug in the refrigerator for up to a week.

I hope you love this stuff as much as I do. Let me know!