Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Tasting Jerusalem #19 – Zhoug

Dee – I’ve been looking forward to cooking with, and writing about, February 2014s featured ingredient for a while.
Zhoug is a fiery hot green chilli relish from Yemen, which arrived in Jerusalem with Yemenite Jews who had emigrated to Israel.  It is said to have become the Israeli equivalent of ketchup, though I wouldn't use it anywhere near as liberally as I do ketchup.
There are many different recipes for Zhoug; possibly nearly as many as there are people who make it, but for anyone following the recipes in the book there is one on page 301.  I shared a slightly different version in an earlier blog entry covering Yemenite Jewish cuisine: click here for details

It was never my intention to make Zhoug on its own for this blog entry though.  My sights were firmly set on the Sabich on page 91.  I love a classic sandwich recipe and I have to say that this is my favourite of all.  Even though the commentary accompanying the recipe points out that it is Iraqi-Jewish rather than Jerusalemite in origin, it shares many of the characteristics of the food enjoyed throughout the city.

To make it, I started with the backbone of the recipe, which was the aubergine.  The recipe stated that it should be sliced, but the photograph of the finished dish in the book appeared to show it cut into chunks.  We went with the latter option, and cooked them slowly in a large frying pan in a little oil.
Once the aubergines were cooked to a nicely charred finish, I made the flatbreads.  I was very pleased with how they turned out.  They had just the soft and chewy texture that I was hoping for and they made a perfect base for the toppings.  
The aubergines and the bread were the only elements that needed to be cooked or baked.  I’d made the Zhoug and the Tahini sauce on page 298 in advance, so it was just a matter of assembly.
Jay incorporated the chopped salad into the whole dish but I preferred to keep mine separate and ate it in alternate mouthfuls with the bread and toppings, where it acted as a sort of palate cleanser.  The freshness of the salad made for a great counterbalance to the much richer and heavily favoured ingredients topping the bread.
We enjoyed this as an evening meal at home, so both added our ingredients on top of the bread rather than splitting it and putting them inside, as would be done in the street food version.

I love the amazing tapestry of ingredients that go into the Sabich.  The soft chewy bread, creamy Tahini sauce, rich boiled egg, fiery Zhoug and Salty Mango Pickle all go so well together, and make for a supremely tasty and filling snack.

We made the full quantities stated in the recipe so will be happily enjoying it again for lunch tomorrow.

“Tasting Jerusalem is a virtual cooking community exploring the vibrant flavors and cuisine of the Middle East through the lens of Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi published by Ebury Press. You can follow along and cook with us by subscribing to  following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, liking our Facebook Page or joining our Google+ Community and finally checking out all of our groups’ dishes on Pinterest

(Please note: I have listed the UK publisher and have linked to the UK Amazon site.  The US details are provided on the web site)


  1. The photo for this recipe in Jerusalem never fails to make my mouth water when I flip past it - every single ingredient is a winner for me plus I just love the whole idea of this kind of street food. Zhoug is still one of our favorite ingredients - just learning to pronounce it right is half the battle but eating it is so easy!

    1. I totally agree. Zhoug is a great way of spicing up a salad or sandwich. I'm especially fond of it with tomatoes.