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Green schug - a spicy Yemeni sauce

Updated: Nov 3, 2021

Schug (also called zhug) is now considered a Middle Eastern spicy condiment. However, it’s origins have been traced back to Yemen. I discovered it a few years ago in my grocery store and have always kept a box in my fridge. It goes with anything, I use it with eggs, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, mixed with mayo as a condiment for fries, and anywhere is hot sauce is called for. There are generally two types of schug, the green one made with fresh green chilies and the red one with dried red chilies. This green version is probably my favorite because of the herby character of the sauce from the cilantro. The Yemeni Hawaij spice mix and a marvel all by itself (it makes for a wonderful dry rub on meats on the grill) and adds nuances of flavor to the sauce. I will warn you, this sauce is quite addictive!

This sauce is from one of my favorite cookbooks. The recipes are always spectacular, the directions clear and easy to follow and the photographs beautiful. Palomar restaurant in London is a go to destination for modern Middle eastern cuisine. It is so on my bucket list. This is one of those cookbooks that everyone should have.

For more amazing recipes from this cookbook, click here.


3-4 garlic cloves

1 bunch cilantro, roots and tough stems removed

12-15 green chilies, stems removed, or to taste

1/4 cup + 1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons lime juice, plus more for taste

1 teaspoon Hawaii spice mix, see recipe below

Salt to taste

Hawaij spice mix:

Makes about 1 cup 4 tablespoons black peppercorns

4 tablespoons cumin seeds

1 tablespoon cardamom pods

1 teaspoon cloves

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

1 tablespoon turmeric

2 teaspoons dried cilantro

To make the Hawaij spice mix:

Dry roast all the whole spices individually till lightly roasted. Cool. Mix all the spices together and grind in a coffee mill to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container.

To make the sauce:

Add all the ingredients except for the 1/4 cup olive oil to a small blender, and purée to a fine sauce. You do not want the sauce too runny, but quite thick. Taste for salt and spice.

Pour the sauce into an air-tight container, preferably glass, and add the second 1/4 cup oil on top. Store in the fridge for as long as a week.

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