Its that time of year when we dust of the BBQ and get things fired up. A major part of BBQ season is what we choose to lather on our lovely smoky, charred dishes. Something that can enliven and surprise, compliment and cut through all those powerful flavours. Chermoula is a zesty, vibrant thing that compliments BBQ food perfectly. A marinade/ sauce from Northern Africa, I first encountered it in Morocco and couldn’t quite believe what was happening in my mouth! Its so full of citrus, herby freshness; the perfect antidote to the richness of a BBQ feast.
I think chermoula goes well with anything, it can light up a veggie tagine for example, especially if its made with squash or dried fruits. The sweetness, with the zingy chermoula is a treat. It can be stirred into warm Moroccan style grain salad made with cous cous/ millet et al and traditionally is used as a marinade. Cover some tofu or tempeh in chermoula and leave overnight in a fridge and let this magic green sauce do its work. I love things that look as good as they taste and Chermoula adds a splash of life to any plate.
TO PESTLE OR TO PROCESS?
I like to use a pestle and mortar when I can. Its such a lovely piece of kit and there is something very wholesome about grinding your own spice mixes and condiments. Yes, its a bit more elbow action than a food processor, but I have a sneaking suspicion that good food was not meant to be easy or convenient. Sometimes, it takes a bit of work and is always rewarding. If you are making a lot of chermoula, do it in batches, an overfilled pestle and mortar is not a pretty site (as it splashes all over your lovely kitchen counter like a Jackson Pollock painting). I’d recommend popping it on a folded kitchen towel or something like that, this stops the P+M scooting around the place. Also, food processor is a name that I struggle with. It sounds a little industrial for my liking. I like ‘whizzer’ or ‘blitzer’.
Here is the recipe from ‘Peace and Parsnips’ where I combine Chermoula with Flame-grilled Veggies (see below, I serve this dish regularly at Trigonos) and Raw Cashew Hummus, ideally all wrapped cosily in a warm flat bread.
Down at Trigonos right now, we have a heap of coriander coming from the poly-tunnels. Along with a whole host of other herbs. I am using them up in dressings and sauces like chermoula, the picture below contains more ‘erb than normal. You can really play around with it, a thick chermoula is a delight if you are lucky enough to have a heap of coriander.
The Bits – 1 small bowlful
1 teas coriander seeds (1/2 teas ground coriander)
1 teas cumin seeds (1/2 teas ground cumin)
100g fresh coriander
50g fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
2 tbs lemon juice
2 teas lemon zest
8 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Salt (as needed)
Dry roast the coriander and cumin seeds in a small frying pan on a medium high heat for about a minute (they will pop). Keep them moving and make sure they don’t burn or they will become bitter. Tip the seeds into a pestle and mortar and grind them down into a powder. Now add all the ingredients (except the oil) and continue pounding and stirring, then drizzle in the oil. The chermoula should resemble a thin sauce, so add more oil if needed. Put in a bowl and set aside.
If you don’t have a pestle and mortar and are using pre-ground spices, blending the ingredients together in a food processor/ blender is fine. Just drizzle the oil in , as above, until you get the desired consistency.
See above, with an array of vegetables or use liberally as a marinade for the perfect BBQ!
Coriander (or Cilantro) is a beautiful plant, filled with amazing nutritional properties. There are many different types of coriander and at Trigonos, Judy grows a very small leafed, but intense coriander, which looks a lot like dill. It’s a delight to cook with and sets this particular chermoula alight!
Coriander seeds are a great source of iron. They also have good amounts of vitamin C, copper and plenty of dietary fibre. There are even some