Want to jazz up dinner? This easy chermoula recipe is packed with pungent flavors to elevate any simply prepared meat, seafood or vegetables. Traditional chermoula spices like cumin and coriander, fresh parsley and cilantro come together with a handful of other ingredients to make a chermoula sauce that will dance in your mouth.
If you’ve never tried Chermoula (pronounced chur-moo-la), you’re going to want to. It’s a traditional “relish” popular in the North African countries of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Libya and each region brings its special “spin” to this tasty condiment. While this sauce may have a peculiar brownish green hue, that we typically avoid when we “eat with our eyes,” I can assure you, this smoky, unctuous condiment has deep, rich, complex flavors and it’s easy to make. Chermoula sauce will add a punch of flavor to anything you serve it with and goes great with grilled chicken, pork, beef, lamb, seafood and vegetables. Here’s how you can make a Chermoula Recipe – 2 Ways.
Table of Contents
Traditional Chermoula Spices & Herbs:
- Flat Leaf Parsley
- Fresh Cilantro
- Fresh chiles
- Ginger (optional)
- Saffron (optional)
Chermoula Recipe – 2 Ways
Your choices are the easy way OR the elbow grease method. The easy way takes advantage of some cool kitchen gadgets and the elbow grease method is done in a mortar and pestle with your own muscle and brute force. If you’re looking for a workout, the elbow grease method is a good one.
For the easy way, you’ll need a spice grinder or coffee grinder that’s been well cleaned of any coffee residue. I actually have two coffee grinders (one just for coffee and the other exclusively for grinding spices) and if you like to play with spices, I’d recommend having one grinder dedicated to that purpose.
Chermoula starts with spice and while you can certainly use jarred spices that are already ground, I prefer toasting whole cumin seed and coriander to bring even more depth of flavor and release their smoky, fragrant aromas. Toast whole spices in a skillet for just a few minutes and then choose the method you’ll use to make your chermoula sauce. If you’re going with the easy method, give the toasted spices a whiz in the grinder until they yield a fine powder, otherwise use your mortar and pestle to mash the spices to oblivion. This chermoula spice blend is responsible for the smoky nuance and depth of flavor in the chermoula sauce. Trust me, this ain’t no pesto.
Wash and dry the flat leaf parsley and cilantro in a salad spinner, and then let air dry until nearly all of the moisture is gone. Chop it finely in the food processor, scraping down the sides as needed, then add the spices, garlic, pepper and salt to the herbs and pulse to combine.
While the food processor is running, drizzle in the olive oil until it forms a thick paste. Add the lemon juice and pulse a few more times until it’s well combined. That’s it. This whole process takes about 10 minutes, so this is an easy way to jazz up any plain protein or vegetable.
Chermoula Sauce – The Elbow Grease Method :
The muscle-y version starts with a good knife and a cutting board and ends in a mortar and pestle. Start with the toasted spices – crush, grind and generally pulverize them.
Chop the fresh herbs and set aside. Then chop the garlic and pepper. In the mortar and pestle, combine the chopped garlic, pepper and kosher salt. Work them together with the pestle, until a thick paste forms.
Add a handful of the chopped parsley and cilantro to the garlic mixture. Mashing, crushing and generally breaking down the herbs into the garlic until they’re smooth. Continue to add the fresh herbs to the garlic mixture until they’re ground to a paste. Next comes the spices, mix them well into the herb blend, then drizzle the olive oil while stirring constantly until you have a thick sauce. Stir in the lemon juice and serve. This method takes about 15-20 minutes of mixing, crushing and pounding, but your arm is gonna look fabulous when you’re done.
To store the chermoula, place it in an airtight container and flatten the top with the back of a spoon. Drizzle a layer of olive oil over the top of the sauce to prevent it from losing it’s vivid color. Refrigerate for up to 3-4 days and try this Grilled Chermoula Marinated Strip Steak recipe.
Chermoula Recipe - Two Ways
- 2 teaspoons whole cumin seed
- ½ teaspoon whole coriander seed
- 4 large cloves garlic
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 serrano pepper or jalapeno (or substitute 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper)
- 1 ½ cups flat leaf parsley
- 2 cups cilantro
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- In a small skillet over medium high heat, add the cumin and coriander seed. Heat for 3-4 minutes, shaking the skillet regularly until the spices are fragrant and toasted. Remove from heat and transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle grind to a fine powder. Set aside.
TO MAKE IN A FOOD PROCESSOR:
- Place the parsley and cilantro in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped. Add whole garlic, pepper and salt and pulse until well combined, scraping down the sides occasionally.
- Add the ground cumin, coriander, paprika and cayenne pepper pulse into the herb mixture. Scrape down the sides. With the food processor running, drizzle the olive oil into the mixture until a thick paste forms. Add the lemon juice and pulse again until well combined. Taste for seasoning. Serve.
TO MAKE IN A MORTAR AND PESTLE:
- Finely chop the parsley and cilantro.
- Chop the garlic and pepper and place it in a mortar and pestle with the kosher salt. Grind the mixture together with the pestle to make a smooth paste. Add a handful of herbs at a time to the mortar and pestle and grind together into the paste, before adding another handful of herbs.
- When the herbs have been ground, work in the ground cumin, coriander, paprika and cayenne. Drizzle in the olive oil, mixing it into the herbs and spices. Stir in the lemon juice and taste for seasoning. Serve.
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This sounds amazing! I would love to add this to m grilled veggies. It would add so much flavor. I can almost smell the aroma through my computer screen!
Monica | Nourish & Fete says
This sounds amazing, but I have to say I’d be game for the EASY method, haha! I’m all about simplicity, especially with a little one underfoot! 🙂 Those herbs, though – I can practically smell the incredible combo through your beautiful photos!
After doing it both ways, the easy method definitely has it’s advantages!
Looks like a great addition to so many recipes! It sounds so much like our traditional Indian chutneys (not the sweet ones!) I am sure it will add a nice kick to many of my curries. And freshly ground herbs.. absolutely aromatic 🙂
Thanks for sharing! Pinning the recipe for later
I’d love to try some of those Indian chutneys!
All those freshly ground herbs and spices are wonderful..I can only imagine how wonderful the aroma and flavors are in this! I have to try this soon!
EA The Spicy RD says
I seriously can not wait to try this~it has everything I love! I 100 % agree ~ toasting spices really brings out their flavor. Pinning this to make soon!
We had it last night and will likely have the leftovers on our grilled pork tenderloin tonight! Hope you enjoy!