Chermoula!! Doesn’t it sound good? This is one of the words that feel endearing. It sure is perky and zingy! This sauce of fresh herbs mixed with earthy subtle spices has the power to turn simple into sublime. Treat it as a marinade… play with it as a drizzling sauce… enjoy it as a dressing… or stir it as garnishing in stews and soups.
It’s multifaceted! Boy, you are in for a treat. You just made an encounter with this North African herb sauce… Chermoula!
Every country and culture has their sauces, dressings and marinades that make their food just more delicious and irresistible. And if you delve into it more, it seems every culture has that green magic sauce that uses fresh herbs and veggies from the garden.
Everywhere the basic same theme, mix your favorite greens, some aromatics, some spices… and there you go! That magic green thing in a jar, ready to use in a million different ways.
I feel this Chermoula is your African chimichurri, like two sisters living on different continents. So similar in profile with some very subtle individual identities.
Give it a try, folks. You’ll want this one on everything. Seafood, meats, veggies… I mean everything! And it’s so simple.
This is something that requires you to do nothing more than put all the ingredients in a blender and whiz them together. Sound good? Read on…
What is Chermoula?
Chermoula, also known as charmoula, comes from North Africa. Think Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco (similar versions are also popular across the Mediterranean in the south of France). Imagine their seafood or meats marinated in this flavorful base and then stewed in their tagines, grilled, or simply baked.
Traditionally, it’s a mix of fresh herbs, aromatics and spices bound together with lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil. But there’s no one recipe for chermoula.
You might find some preserved lemons or ginger in Marrakesh, or some cook might add a dash of onions in Algiers, or someone in Tangier may decide to cook it a bit with plum tomatoes. The variations of this theme are endless.
At GypsyPlate, we feel that once you get the basic sauce down, play with different flavors and decide which variation you like.
Ingredients to make Chermoula
- Cilantro – The base herb. If you are not fan of this herb, you still can make it with other herbs, but that would be closer to chimichurri.
- Parsley – More green magic.
- Mint – Optional, but I always have plenty on my patio and am on look out for every chance to use it. 🙂
- Cumin seeds
- Coriander seeds
- Smoked paprika
- Red chili flakes
- Fresh lemon juice & zest
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Now the simple part, making Chermoula
Before you head towards your blender, we strongly suggest that you dry toast the cumin and coriander seeds. This quick toasting step, though optional, adds tons of flavor to your chermoula.
Add them to a dry skillet over medium heat and stir frequently until fragrant and the color changes slightly to golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Wash your herbs, remove the largest stems, and put them in the blender. Give a few quick pulses of the blender. Put remaining ingredients, minus olive oil, in the blender and pulse a few more times.
Once the herbs are chopped, drizzle in olive oil and give a few more pulses. You want a slightly coarse paste, not too smooth.
The seeds might be a little rough. If you prefer them finer, you can ground them fine before adding them in.
Let your chermoula stand for half an hour before serving so the flavors mingle well.
What can Chermoula DO for you?
Traditionally used to flavor fish and other seafood, it’s in no way limited to the bounties of seas…
- Try marinating meats like chicken, steak and of course seafood and cook them in different ways. Make a stew, bake, grill it, or cook in a tagine, the Moroccan way. Imagine cooking your favorite shrimp with tomato Chermoula in a tagine. 🙂
- Stir it in your soups and stews to add the extra goodness of herbs and spices, like a good heap stirred into our Moroccan lentil soup… Yumm!! This green seasoning can give double the flavors to your simple chicken stew.
- Garnish your grilled or baked meats with this amazing flavor booster. It would go great on all kinds of kebabs. Try it on our chicken tikkas sometimes, instead of regular green chutney. A great mix and match of two cultures.
- Veggies don’t need to be left behind. Roasted eggplants, potatoes or cauliflower with a good dose of chermoula and feta or tahini is so popular in north African countries.
- Mix it with more olive oil and a dash more lemon juice and use it as dressing over your favorite salads and Buddha bowls.
- You can even have it over crostini or pitas. Or stir it in regular pasta to give it a perky boost… So, so many ways to make chermoula a part of your life.
The best way to marinate is in a ziploc bag with all the air squeezed out. Another good option is in a covered bowl.
In either case, keep your marinating meat in the refrigerator. Marinate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
This recipe yields about 1 cup of chermoula. I generally use about 1/2 cup per pound. So you can always multiply the recipe if cooking for a crowd.
- Instead of a blender, some prefer to finely chop the herbs, mince the garlic and mix everything in a bowl. Some also make their chermoula with a mortar and pestle.
- You can make your chermoula as spicy as you want by adjusting the amount of spices.
- Many times, tomatoes are mixed in. This version is often cooked, with fresh diced tomatoes, though some people just stir in tomato paste.
- Onion, ginger, preserved lemons, thyme, saffron, red wine vinegar are a few other things that sometimes make their way into this delicious sauce.
How to store Chermoula
Chermoula can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4-5 days, though chances that it will last that long are pretty slim. 🙂 I betcha!
If you make a big batch, you can portion it out by freezing in an ice tray and storing the frozen cubes in a ziploc bag.
I know many of you have tried our other green sauces. Now give this novel sauce from Africa a try. Who wouldn’t need a little perk up to that fish or steak this summer, when the barbies are working full on.
Bring out the brightness! Chermoula… cheri!!! Yeah, I know, that endearing word! I, myself, am in love with not only the flavors, but the word too… silly me 🙂
Chermoula, on my Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
Check out these other great sauces and seasonings!
Cuban Mojo Marinade
Cilantro Mint Chutney
Jamaican Jerk Marinade
Guasacaca (Venezuelan Guacamole)
- 2 cups cilantro, loosely packed
- 1 cup parsley, loosely packed
- 1/2 cup mint (optional)
- 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp grated or striped lemon zest
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Dry roast cumin and coriander seeds in a skillet over medium heat, until they start changing color to golden brown, about 2 minutes. Keep a close eye, making sure not to burn them. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Place all the ingredients in a blender, except olive oil, and pulse a few times until all the herbs are chopped. Drizzle in olive oil and pulse a few more times, scraping the sauce down the sides of the blender, if necessary. Pulse it to a course paste.
- Let it stand for 30 minutes before serving, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- The above measurements are for the guidance. You can experiment with the amounts to your liking. Some like more garlic, some may prefer a little more heat. Some may like more citrussy tang in theirs. Some like more olive oil. Play with YOUR chermoula.
- We recommend using whole cumin and coriander, but in a pinch you can get away with spice powders. Some days, if you don't have coriander, only cumin also does wonders. Never let an absence of a few ingredients deter you from making any recipe.
- To retain its vivid green color for a longer time, 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. This prevents the oxidation and prevent it from losing its green color.
Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 185Total Fat 14gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 0mgSodium 50mgCarbohydrates 16gFiber 1gSugar 9gProtein 1g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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