A jar of schug, an herby, spiced condiment.

Schug (pronounced skoog, sometimes spelled zhug) is a spiced green sauce originating from Yemen but used throughout the Middle East. It’s a blend of herbs, chilies, and toasted spices.

I first wrote about it several years ago after discovering it in Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons, which inspired me to drizzle it over anything from roasted vegetables to grilled meat. This is maybe my favorite way to use it: roasted cauliflower (or delicata squash) with lemony yogurt sauce. The combination of the charred vegetables, with the creamy yogurt sauce and the spiced, herby schug is irresistible.

Of all the green sauces I have made — from pesto to salsa verde to green goddess — schug is most similar to a green harissa, but it’s even more spiced: there’s cumin and coriander as well as hot chilies. Because the chilies are seeded, the sauce is not impossibly spicy—it’s, in fact, bright with lemon, as these sauces often are, and it has a bit of texture thanks to the mass of chilies, garlic, and herbs.

How to Use Schug (Zhug)

Maybe the better question is how not to use schug? I want to drizzle it over everything:

How to Make Schug: A Step by Step Guide:

Here’s the play-by-play: Gather your ingredients.

Toast whole cumin and coriander seeds:

A skillet with cumin and coriander seeds in it.

Grind the spices in a mortar and pestle:

A mortar and pestle with cumin and coriander seeds in it.
A mortar and pestle with ground cumin and coriander seeds in it.

Remove the ribs and seeds from a few hot chili peppers:

A hot chili on a cutting board.

Zest and juice a lemon.

A liquid measure filled with lemon juice aside a bowl filled with zest.

Transfer chilies and garlic to a food processor and pulse.

A good processor filled with puréed chilies and garlic.

Add cilantro, parsley, ground cumin and coriander, lemon zest and juice, and salt.

A food processor filled with herbs, spices, salt, lemon zest, garlic, and chilies.

Process till fine:

A food processor filled with puréed herbs, garlic, and chilies.

Add olive oil, and process more:

A food processor filled with schug.

Ta da! Schug: you’ll want to put this on everything.

A jar of freshly made schug.

Here’s the roasted delicata squash with the schug and yogurt sauce:

A plate of roasted delicata squash with schug and lemony yogurt sauce.

This is a favorite recipe: Roasted Cauliflower with Schug and Lemony Yogurt Sauce

A plate of roasted cauliflower with schug.
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Schug (Zhug) Sauce


Description

Adapted from Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons

Schug (pronounced skoog, sometimes spelled zhug) is a Middle Eastern (often used in Yemeni/Israeli cooking) blend of herbs, chilies, and toasted spices: there’s cumin and coriander as well as hot chilies. Because the chilies are seeded, the sauce is not impossibly spicy—it’s, in fact, bright with lemon, and it has a bit of texture thanks to the mass of chilies, garlic, and herbs. Once you make schug once, you will want to put it on everything.

Note: You’ll see in the video I only used 1 chili — it was all I had on hand that day! — and I didn’t add lemon zest…I forgot. All of this is to say the recipe is very forgiving. As long as you include some toasted spices and something that provides a little heat, and as long as you get the balance of lemon to olive oil right, you’ll be good to go. 


Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup (or less! see notes above) seeded and roughly chopped fresh hot green chilies, such as serrano (2 to 4)
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 cups lightly packed cilantro leaves and stems
  • 2 cups lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves and stems (rough stems removed)
  • zest from one lemon
  • juice from one lemon, about 3 tablespoons
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a small skillet, toast the cumin and coriander seeds until they smell fragrant and have turned a shade darker in color. Transfer to a spice grinder or crush with a mortar and pestle.
  2. Put the chilies and garlic in a food processor and pulse a few times until they are fairly fine. Add the cilantro, parsley, lemon zest, reserved toasted spiced, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and a few twists of black pepper. Pulse until all is finely chopped into a rough purée. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Stop the processor before the sauce is completely blended and smooth—you want some texture. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with another 1/2 teaspoon salt (I always do), and pepper and lemon to taste.
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern

Keywords: schug, zhug, zhoug, cilantro, parsley, cumin, coriander, lemon, olive oil