Israeli Hot Sauces – Zhug & Amba

So as we round out Condiment Week, I was trying to decide what today’s final recipe should be. We did the classics of mayo, mustard, ketchup and relish…. but what would be a good final note? So I thought to myself, what do you see on tables at restaurants? I know! Hot sauce! But no one is really going to make their own Tabasco or Texas Pete sauce at home (well, some people will, but most of us won’t).

But then I remembered one of my mom’s favourites! Amba! A slightly pickled, slightly spicy, savoury mango sauce that she just loves on her laffa! And of course, when you’re ordering up your laffa, you can always ask for it to be cha’reef (hot in Hebrew), which means the addition of Zhug, a spicy herb paste that really kicks it up a notch. So for today, we get two recipes, Amba and Zhug. Remember, you can always adjust the heat level by adding more or less chilies to the recipes. Enjoy and MAKE SURE TO WASH YOUR HANDS BEFORE TOUCHING YOUR EYES!

Zhug

Zhug – Israeli/Yemeni Hot Sauce
Makes about 1 ¼ cup

Ingredients:

10 to 14 fresh green chilies or jalapeños, seeded if you like and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
6 to 8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground caraway seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seeds
½ teaspoon freshly ground green cardamom
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro*
½ cup packed parsley leaves*
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 4 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro and parsley.

Directions:

Place the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or in a blender and pulse several times, until you get a smooth paste. You will have to scrape down all the bits and pieces that stick to the sides of the bowl.

Pack in a jar and store in the refrigerator. Zhug will keep for one to two weeks. You can also freeze it, but it will lose some of its garlicky flavor.

Amba

Amba – Spicy/Savoury Israeli Condiment
Makes about 1 one-cup

Ingredients:

2 ½ green mangoes
1 ¼ tablespoons salt
½ tablespoon corn oil
2 ½ tablespoons mustard seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seed (whole, not ground)
1 tablespoon dried red pepper (about 2 ½ tiny ones, or more to taste)
½ tablespoon ground fenugreek
1 tablespoon hot paprika
½ tablespoon turmeric
½ head garlic, peeled and finely chopped (HEAD, not cloves)
¼ cup corn oil (more or less, for finishing)

Directions:

Wash the mangoes well and cut them up (including the peel) into slices the size of your pinky finger. Coat with the 1 ¼ tablespoons of salt, and place the slices into a large jar. Close the jar and shake it to evenly distribute the salt. Place the jar in a sunny spot for 4 to 5 days to release all the liquid in the fruit. At the end of this time the mangoes should be a very light, yellow colour.

Drain the mangoes, but make sure to save the liquid. Allow the mango slices to dry, preferably in the sun, for 3 to 4 hours. Heat the ½ tablespoon of corn oil in a pot, and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, peppers, fenugreek, paprika and turmeric. Cook and constantly stir for a few seconds, until the spices begin to pop and make tiny explosive noises.

In a separate small pot, boil the saved mango liquid and then add it to the heated spice mixture. Add the mango pieces and the chopped garlic. Stir, and continue cooking for 5 minutes on a low flame. Make sure the mixture does not dry out too much. Remove from the flame and let cool completely. At this point you can leave it chunky, or use a blender to purée it smooth.

Pour the mixture into a clean container with a lid and cover with the remaining corn oil, and then seal. The amba will keep in the fridge for at least six months.

Moroccan Dry Rub

North African Dry RubThis North African flavoured rub is great on chicken, but equally good when used to flavour vegetarian dishes, like a chickpea stew or tofu. Keep the wet and dry ingredients separate until you are ready to use the rub, as the fresh ingredients will spoil after a while and you don’t want to lose all that good rub!

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients:

3 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons sweet paprika
5 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons black pepper
4 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons cayenne
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
5 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:

If using the entire 1 cup batch of rub at once:
5 cloves of garlic, minced
3 lemons worth of zest, minced*

If using one portion of the rub (about 3 tablespoons):
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ lemon worth of zest, minced*

* Click here for my tips on zesting.

Directions:

Mix all of your dry ingredients together in a bowl. Either portion out a small amount of rub, and add your minced garlic and lemon zest, or if using the whole recipe, add the garlic and lemon directly to your mixing bowl. Mix well, so that everything is incorporated.

This is a dry rub, but you can add oil directly to the rub to make a paste, or lightly oil whatever it is you are using the rub on, then apply the spice mixture. This rub can be used right away, or you can let it sit on your dish so that the flavours permeate the food. Without the wet ingredients, this rub can last about 6 months in an air tight container.

Spicy Black Beans and Yellow Rice

beans and riceIngredients:

For Beans:
2 cups (about 1 pound) dried black beans, picked over, soaked overnight
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For Rice:
2 cups long-grain rice
4 cups water
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 bay leaf

Directions:

For the beans:
In a large pot, soak beans overnight covered in water by 2 inches. Drain and set aside.

In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, jalapeno pepper, garlic, and bay leaf and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and cover with water by about 1-inch. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until the beans are tender. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Taste the beans and season with salt and pepper.

For the rice:
Put all the ingredients into a heavy-bottomed pot, stir well, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat until the rice has absorbed the water, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Discard the garlic and bay leaf, fluff with a fork, and serve.

Spicy Black Beans and Yellow Rice

beans and riceIngredients:

For Beans:
2 cups (about 1 pound) dried black beans, picked over, soaked overnight
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For Rice:
2 cups long-grain rice
4 cups water
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 bay leaf

Directions:

For the beans:
In a large pot, soak beans overnight covered in water by 2 inches. Drain and set aside.

In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, jalapeno pepper, garlic, and bay leaf and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and cover with water by about 1-inch. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until the beans are tender. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Taste the beans and season with salt and pepper.

For the rice:
Put all the ingredients into a heavy-bottomed pot, stir well, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat until the rice has absorbed the water, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Discard the garlic and bay leaf, fluff with a fork, and serve.

Moroccan Mains: Chicken & Couscous

tumeric chicken

Moroccan Chicken

Serves 8
Ingredients:

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast meat – cubed
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon salt
olive oil
2 onions, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, diced
4 carrots, sliced ¼” rounds
4 stalks celery, sliced ¼” rounds
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups crushed tomatoes
2 cups canned chickpeas, drained
2 zucchini, sliced ½” rounds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Pepper, to taste

Directions:

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat adding a little olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and brown in the saucepan until almost cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Sauté the onion, garlic, carrots and celery in same pan. When tender, stir in ginger, paprika, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper and turmeric; stir fry for about 1 minute, then mix in broth and tomatoes. Return chicken to pan, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add chickpeas and zucchini to pan and bring to a simmer once again; cover pan and cook for about 15 minutes, or until zucchini is cooked through and tender. Stir in lemon juice and serve over the rice, plain couscous or the delicious couscous recipe below.

CouscousMoroccan Couscous

Ingredients:

1 ¼ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 red, green, or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces
2 zucchinis, halved lengthwise and cut into ¾” pieces
½ cup golden raisins (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
grated zest of one orange
1 540ml can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 ½ cups chicken broth
½ cup orange juice
1 ½ cups couscous
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint*

Directions:

Place a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Stir in the cumin, ginger, cloves, cayenne, cardamom, coriander, and allspice; gently toast until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in oil and onion, cook until softened. Stir in the bell pepper, and zucchini; cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the raisins, salt, zest, and garbanzos. Pour in the chicken broth and orange juice; turn heat to high and bring to a boil. When the mixture is boiling, stir in the couscous and remove from heat; cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and fold in chopped mint.

*To learn how to inspect fresh mint, click here.

Moroccan Spicy Lentil Soup

Spicy Lentil Soup

The recipe for this soup was passed around the office with rave reviews! It was originally published in the Toronto Star many moons ago, but has since become a staple in many of the houses of my co-workers. When they heard I was doing a Moroccan Week, it became a no brainer that I include this recipe! I hope you all enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions minced
1 clove garlic minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 cinnamon stick, about 2-3 inches in length
1 cup dried red lentils
5-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
796ml can diced tomatoes
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
540ml can chick peas, rinsed and drained
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:

In a large pot, heat oil over a medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring every 3-5 minutes, until the onion has softened, but has not browned. Stir in the paprika, turmeric, cayenne and cinnamon. Cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Stir in the lentils, and mix until they are well coated. Stir in 5 cups of stock, tomatoes, salt, pepper and the bay leaf. Raise the heat to high, and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, covered, for 30-40 minutes. Add the remaining cup of stock and stir in the chickpeas, parsley and lemon juice. Simmer uncovered for a minute or so. Discard the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Adjust the flavour as desired, adding more salt, pepper or lemon, then serve hot. Enjoy!

Moroccan Cigars – 3 Ways

regular morrocan

Moroccan Pastilles

Ingredients:

2 pounds Ground meat
½ cup water
6-7 bay leaves
Salt
Pepper
1 teaspoon mace
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ cup oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 pound fyllo dough
Melted margarine (for between fyllo layers)

Directions:

In a medium size sauté pan, brown the meat along with the water, 4 – 5 bay leaves, salt, pepper, mace, nutmeg and turmeric. Reduce heat, and let rest until all of the moisture has evaporated. Let the meat mixture cool to room temperature, and then grind it along with 2 bay leaves, oil and lemon juice. Once fully ground and combined, form the meat into small flat balls. Refrigerate the balls until they have completely cooled. On a clean work surface lay out a sheet of the fyllo dough. Using a pastry brush, baste the melted margarine on the dough sheet. Place a second sheet of dough on top of the first sheet.
Triangle Fold

Using scissors, divide the sheets length wise into 2” strips. Place one of the meat balls at the base of the dough strip. Fold the dough, alternating angles, until the entire strip is used, and the pastille is shaped like a triangle. Repeat this process with the rest of the meat. Once all the meat has been used, place the triangle pastilles on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or room temperature.

Cigar

Spicy Moroccan Pastilles

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground meat
½ cup water
6-7 bay leaves
½ cup oil
2 heads of garlic
1 heaping teaspoon cumin
1 heaping teaspoon paprika
1 heaping teaspoon salt
2-3 hot chilies
1 pound fyllo dough
Melted margarine (for between fyllo layers)

Directions:

In a medium size sauté pan, brown the meat along with the water, 4 – 5 bay leaves, salt, cumin, paprika and hot chilies. Reduce heat, and let rest until all of the moisture has evaporated. Let the meat mixture cool to room temperature, and then grind it along with 2 bay leaves, oil and garlic. Once fully ground and combined, form the meat into small flat cigars. Refrigerate the cigars until they have completely cooled. On a clean work surface lay out a sheet of the fyllo dough. Using a pastry brush, baste the melted margarine on the dough sheet. Place a second sheet of dough on top of the first sheet. Using scissors, divide the sheets length wise into 3” strips. Place one of the meat cigars at the base of the dough strip. Fold the sides into the centre, and then roll up the length of the dough, creating a cigar look. Repeat this process with the rest of the meat. Once all of the meat has been used, place the cigar pastilles on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sweet Chicken

Sweet Chicken Moroccan Pastilles

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground chicken
1 onion
1 heaping teaspoon sugar
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon pepper
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup raisins (optional)
1 pound fyllo dough
Melted margarine (for between fyllo layers)

Directions:

In a medium size sauté pan, brown the meat along with the water, onion, sugar, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Reduce heat, and let rest until all of the moisture has evaporated. Let the meat mixture cool to room temperature, and then grind it along with the almonds and raisins. Once fully ground and combined, form the meat into small flat balls. Refrigerate the balls until they have completely cooled. On a clean work surface lay out a sheet of the fyllo dough. Using a pastry brush, baste the melted margarine on the dough sheet. Place a second sheet of dough on top of the first sheet. Using scissors, divide the sheets length wise into 2” strips. Place one of the meat balls at the base of the dough strip. Fold the dough, alternating angles, until the entire strip is used, and the pastille is shaped like a triangle. Repeat this process with the rest of the meat. Once all the meat has been used, place the triangle pastilles on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or room temperature.

Curry Chicken

Curry Chicken

Add a little Indian flair to your dinner table with this easy curry chicken. This recipe serves 8.

Ingredients:

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into large chunks
2 medium onions – thinly sliced
1 15 oz. can chickpeas – drained and rinsed
2 medium sweet potatoes – peeled and diced
2 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large or 2 small zucchini, diced
2 cups coconut milk – light or regular
1 cup chicken stock – low sodium
1 5.5 oz. can tomato paste
4 tablespoons curry powder – salt-free
2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons cracked pepper
2 tablespoon finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
1 fresh chili, sliced (optional)
1 stalk lemongrass, sliced (optional)
4 kaffir lime leaves, sliced (optional)
1 cup green peas – frozen
3-4 tablespoons lemon juice
cilantro – optional garnish
Rice

Directions:

In the bottom of the slow cooker, whisk together coconut milk, chicken stock, tomato paste, garlic, ginger and all of your spices. If you are using the chili, lemongrass and kaffir leaves, add them now too. Add chicken breasts, onion, chickpeas, both kinds of potatoes and the zucchini. Using tongs, gently toss ingredients together to ensure everything is evenly coated. Cook on Low for 8 hours or High for 4 hours. Stir in peas and lemon juice 5 minutes before serving. Serve over rice and with plenty of fresh cilantro.

In order to make this ahead of time, simply whisk together coconut milk, chicken stock, tomato paste, garlic, ginger and all of your spices in a small bowl. If you are using the chili, lemongrass and kaffir leaves, add them now too. In a large gallon sized freezer bag, place the chicken and vegetables, except the peas, and pour your liquid spice mixture over everything in the bag. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Rub the chicken through the bag, rubbing the sauce over and into chicken. Store the bag flat in the freezer until frozen through, then you can stand it up until you’re ready to use it. When it comes to the day you decide to serve the chicken, cook on low for 8 hours, and then follow the rest of the steps for preparing the dish the same as above.

Chow Chow

Chow Chow Relish

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh green beans
1 cup of cauliflower, separated into florets (use frozen checked cauliflower)
⅓ cup fresh lima beans, shelled
⅓ cup fresh corn kernels
½ cup chopped onions
½ green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup green tomatoes, chopped
1 ½ cups cider vinegar
½ cup white sugar
1 tablespoon salt
¾ teaspoon celery seed
¾ teaspoon mustard seed
¾ teaspoon ground mustard powder
½ teaspoon ground turmeric

Note: Canned green beans, lima beans and corn can be used in this recipe if fresh is unavailable.

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add green beans, cauliflower, lima beans, and corn. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes or just until tender; drain. If you are using canned vegetables, you can skip this step, as the vegetables are already par-cooked. Return vegetables to pot, and mix in onions, bell peppers, and green tomatoes. Heat vinegar in a separate saucepan until boiling. Stir in sugar, salt, celery seed, mustard seed, ground mustard powder, and ground turmeric until the sugar has dissolved. Pour over vegetables in pot, and bring to a boil. Simmer 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into a sterilized pint jar, and seal. Let the relish sit for a day or two in the fridge before using to give the flavours a chance to blend.