Belazu Zhoug Paste
Belazu Yemenite Spice Paste with fresh coriander, parsley and cloves
Lifts your food this month
I am featuring something this month which sounds like I feel: Zhoug! Although this might seem a bit downbeat, it actually has the opposite effect, by lifting almost any food you serve it with. And that is what you need in January especially if you are trying to go veggie or are doing Veganuary.
In the Middle East it comes in many guises as zhug, or zkhug or s’hoog or skhug, and even sahawiq and daqqus (all equally sounding depressing). But this fiery zesty paste can add life to lots of dishes. So what is it? It is Persia’s answer to salsa verde but with more pazzaz. A herb paste with coriander, cloves, cardamom, cumin, parsley and a green chilli kick. It is sold by one of my favourite companies - Belazu, who have been so instrumental in introducing us to some of the most exciting ingredients from the Mediterranean and Middle East. It originally came from the Yemen but is now part of Israel’s street food scene. Belazu’s website give the story behind this – it was brought there in the early 1950’s in the aftermath of “Operation on Wings of Eagles” when 50,000 Yemenites were airlifted away from political persecution. Now it is Israel’s most popular hot sauce.
Try it stirred through roast potatoes, or jacket potatoes, or salad potatoes while they are still warm. Or with roasted vegetables – brushed onto grilled aubergines and it is especially good with Delia’s oven-roasted cauliflower with garlic and coriander, and Delia’s oven-roasted ratatouille. Add it to wine vinegar to make salad dressings; or to yogurt for a dip or even better serve alongside courgette or cauliflower fritters. Spread it on toast or serve alongside hummus, or falafels or grilled haloumi. Spoon it over cooked lentils, or cannellini beans or even green beans. Or over a Greek salad of feta, red onion and tomato. Or even over fried eggs! And if you have not gone veggie it is perfect paired with lamb – grilled lamb chops, roast lamb or lamb meatballs. Or with poached chicken. Or grilled salmon, or seared tuna.. Or with sea bass cooked in the oven and added towards the end of the cooking. In fact, it is always best added as it is or just gently cooked to preserve its flavour. Simply brush it on whatever you are cooking in the last few minutes. You will quickly see the jar being emptied.
With Zhoug, January will not be so gloomy a month.
Less ugh and more zhoug
Belazu Zhoug Paste
Availability and price as at 31st December 2019