Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I will put charmoula sauce on almost anything.  Roast chicken? Of course.  The tomato salad served with the roast chicken? Surprisingly good. With hummus on carrots?  On fried eggs the next day? Delicious. I would have kept putting it on everything I ate if I hadn't scooped up the last of it with a flour tortilla.

Charmoula is a North African spice paste, traditionally eaten in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.  Although it sounds exotic, it is insanely easy and cheap to make.  I first saw charmoula on Mark Bittman's column in the NYTimes, and further research revealed recipes calling for charmoula on everything from lamb to shrimp to vegetables.  Bittman even suggests potatoes.  Its rather thick sauce, and packs a spicy punch.  A little goes a long way.

Charmoula also doubles as a great marinade, as I used it for bone-in chicken pieces.  I used about half the charmoula this recipe made to coat the chicken before baking, and saved the rest as a sauce to serve with dinner. I roasted the chicken in a 400 degree oven until cooked through, about 45 minutes.  It was spicy, but not overly so.  The flavor of the sauce was like nothing I had tasted before, rich and exotic.  I was amazed it was made from such traditional ingredients.  I'll certainly be finding some other uses for Charmoula before the summer is up.

Adapted from Mark Bittman

3 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 c. fresh flat leafed parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 c. olive oil

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender.  Process until smooth.  Use as a marinade, dressing or dip.  Store in the refrigerator for up to a week (if you don't eat it all by then).

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