Zhuk, a Yemen paste of hot green peppers, is one of the hottest things to spice your food with. Very easy to make, and there’s also a story.
Until 1493, the only pepper outside the American continnent was the one we know today as “black pepper”. And when Christopher Columbus brought the first chilis to Europe, no one seemed to care.
It took some 150 years until the old world came to it’s senses, but after that the tiny veg was caltivated and quickly spread to all Europe (espcialy Italy and Hungery) and from there to North Africa, the Middle-East and Asia, where it was engineered into over 2000 species and varaieties of peppers, and dozens of different spices.
Hot peppers are very common in all Midlle Eastern cuisines, where it is eaten fresh, cooked or pickled. In most hummus places in Israel and Arab countries, hot peppers are an integral part of the course – fresh or as part of a sauce of some kind (NEVER as one of the hummus ingredients).
In some places the hummus is served with Tatbila, a thin sauce from ground green peppers with lots of garlic and lemon. Many Israeli hummus places serve it with Harif (“hot”), a local variation of the North African sauce called Arissa, in which red chilis are the main ingredient.
Zhuk (*), the Yemen version for the hot pepper sauce, is made of hot green peppers, garlic, oil, spices and tons of coriander. It can be a little hot or very hot, but it’s always very tasty , very green and smells very good.
After eating Zhuk, people who do not like coriander are often surprised when they realise it’s one of the ingredients. So, don’t give up on this one before you tried it. The taste is simply wondeful.
This recipe is a relitively subtle version of the dish, but it’s still VERY HOT. Be sure to use gloves, make it very clean, and don’t make any sudden moves while chopping the peppers – they tend to be juicy, and one drop in enough for hours of burning pain if it accidently find it way into your eyes…. ouch….
for one small jar:
1 teacup chopped coriander
5 mediem hot green peppers
2-4 cloves of garlic
1/2-1/3 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbs. oil
Gently and carefuly cut and clean the peppers from the seeds. Ground with all other ingredients in a food processor until the desired consistancy is achieved.
(*) also spelled Schug, Zchug, Zhug etc. The meaning of the name is “ground”.