It's all about the sauce (and the seeds)

It’s officially grill season. While you’re brushing off the grill grates and prepping your proteins and vegetables, don’t forget to make a bright and zesty sauce for serving. Herbaceous, citrusy condiments, such as salsas and pestos, will complement and elevate your charred grill food. And zhoug is one sauce you should consider adding to your repertoire.

Zhoug (pronounced zoog) is a ubiquitous Yemenite condiment composed of fiery green chiles, fresh leafy herbs and ground spices, including cardamom, caraway, coriander and cumin. Toasting and grinding whole spice seeds is worth the extra step and will deliver the deepest, most fragrant flavor to the sauce. The toasting method is easy: Simply heat the whole spices in a small skillet until fragrant, then finely grind them in a mortar or spice grinder. For the cardamom, crack open the pods to release the small dark seeds and discard the pod shells. (To do this, place the pods on a work surface and bang them with the bottom of a mug or a heavy-bottomed drinking glass.) If whole spices are not available, ground jarred spices may be substituted.

Lynda Balslev is an award-winning writer, cookbook author, and recipe developer based in northern California. Visit TasteFood at

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