SKHUG GREEN, YEMENI HOT SAUCE
By: Nina Phomina
It’s very hot! It’s very aromatic! It’s very delicious!
Hot sauce skhug is extremely popular in Middle Eastern cuisine. The sauce, a creation of the Yemeni kitchen, was brought to Israel by Yemeni Jews. It’s been said that it is hard to find a home in Israel that doesn’t have a jar of this scalding condiment in a refrigerator.
Skhug can be green or red, prepared with green and red hot peppers respectively, as well as brown, when prepared with tomatoes and spicy peppers. The sauce is served with flat bread and goes well with humus, falafel, and shawarma. Don’t be afraid to add a teaspoon or two to soups, stews, rice, meat, poultry, fish, or even a burger for a new dimension of flavor. There are as many skhug recipes, as there are families who make it.
Most of the time this sauce is prepared from hot peppers, with the addition of fresh cilantro, and a variety of spices. I have adapted the classic dish with my own touches and when I put it on some warm soft flatbread (naan or lavash), the taste is simply blissful. To better enjoy the full flavor of the skhug I quickly blended up some homemade hummus, which when paired with the sauce, brings out more subtle tastes in both. I put hummus and green skhug on the flatbread together, and the result was so tasty it instantly lit up my face and spirit.
Today green skhug, this heat filled treat, is a long time favorite of my whole family and friends.
• 1 large bunch of cilantro (about 3 cups pressed)
• 2 hot green jalapeno peppers, remove seeds
• 1 small head of garlic (about 10 cloves)
• ½ tsp ground cumin
• ½ tsp ground cardamom
• ½ tsp ground black pepper
• 1/8 tsp ground cloves
• Juice of ½ lemon
• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Blend all the ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth thick sauce.
Store the sauce in a jar in a refrigerator.
Serve with flat bread (pita, naan, tortilla), crackers, toasted bread, with hummus, falafel, and so on.
When making skhug for the first time, try this recipe ‘as is.’ Next time you can make adjustments to the ingredients (lemon juice, pepper or garlic) according to your personal taste.
After blending the sauce, don’t forget to add pieces of bread into the empty food processor bowl to get flavorful breadcrumbs for soups, salads, gratin, pasta, and so on. Breadcrumbs can be stored in a freezer.