I’d like to introduce you to my new friend, chermoula. Though we met scarcely two and a half weeks ago, we have become fast friends. We do everything together. Or, at least, I hope we will soon.
Chermoula, or charmoula, is an herb sauce or marinade used in various North African cuisines. It varies from region to region in its exact composition, but a typical Moroccan preparation uses parsley. This is the kind I first tried at a little Moroccan restaurant in upstate New York. It came on a colorful plate, surrounded by warm, toasted triangles of pita bread. For an unassuming green sauce, it packs a lot of flavor. It is wonderfully fresh from the herbs, bright from lemon juice, and earthy from cumin and other spices. It was my favorite dish of the evening, despite trying many other wonderful things. Now that I know how easy it is to make at home, it may become a permanent resident of my refrigerator.
Chermoula is typically served with fish or meat and also goes great with fresh bread or roasted vegetables. I tried roasting diced potatoes in chermoula. In retrospect, it might have been even better to roast the potatoes on their own (diced, with olive oil and salt in a 425 degree oven) and then put the sauce on, but it took restraint to stop eating them even the way I did it.
Fun Fact: Parsley and cilantro, along with other leafy greens, are rich in vitamin K. This vitamin is essential for making blood-clotting proteins in the body. Vitamin K deficiency is rare, however, because certain bacteria in your intestines produce it. Babies are usually injected with vitamin K at birth as a precaution because they have not yet developed as many intestinal bacteria.
Adapted very minimally from NYT Cooking
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
2 cups parsley (medium-large stems removed), about 1-2 bunches
1½ cups cilantro (stems mostly removed), about 1 bunch
3 large cloves garlic
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt, more to taste
1 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Toast the cumin and coriander seeds together in a small skillet over medium heat, tossing/stirring occasionally until fragrant and slightly darkened. Let cool, then grind in a mortar and pestle or electric spice grinder. Set aside.
Peel and halve the garlic cloves. Add the parsley, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice to a food processor or blender or tall narrow vessel (if using immersion blender). Chop/blend until the herbs and garlic are well chopped and incorporated into the lemon juice and oil. Add the remaining ingredients and reserved spices, and continue to chop until the mixture has reached a smooth paste-like consistency. Add additional salt, lemon, or garlic to taste.