Chermoula, a North African marinade, is an indispensable kitchen staple for me, much like it is in the countries it comes from: Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. We use it in so many different ways, most certainly in tagines but also as a marinade for all sorts of fish and seafood recipes. I also love to use it to add flavour to couscous and rice dishes. In its basic form, it shares certain characteristics with the Argentinian chimichurri, with its oil, herbs and garlic.
Chermoula comes in two colours: green and not green! If the marinade has only herbs, olive oil, garlic, salt and some lemon juice, it will be a fairly vibrant green. As soon as you start adding coloured spices, you’ll start to muddy up the marinade. Literally. As in mine here.
I’m giving you 2 different chermoula recipes, but as you can see, they start off the same, having the same basic ingredients. Both of them have my favourite twosome, fresh coriander (cilantro) and parsley and a few other essentials. Then the second one starts getting a little funky with the addition of spices and sumac, one of my favourite ingredients ever!
You can play around with your own chermoula but be sure to retain the olive oil, the garlic, the cumin, at least one herb and most certainly something sour. So whether it’s lemon juice, preserved lemon pulp, dried lime, sumac or anything else that comes to mind, that’s completely up to you.
In the recipes below, I’ve given you cumin and coriander as ground, to make it easier. However, I always grind them fresh, dry roasting both spices for a minute or two on medium low flame, then zapping them to a powder in the spice mill. But, I’ll leave that up to you.
A couple of ingredients to note when making Chermoula
Liquid Saffron – Whatever I’m cooking, I use saffron the way we use it in Persian cuisine, by crushing them and then soaking them to get liquid saffron. Click on the link to see how we do this.
Sumac – a favourite Middle Eastern ingredient, sumac is a grown up version of the simple lemon juice! Click on the link to read more.
The consistency of your chermoula is up to you and depends on what you need it for. For grilling or barbecuing, a thicker smooth chermoula is the best. You can do this by cutting down on the liquid and blending everything in a chopper for a smoother finish. The other alternative is to chop your herbs not too finely, to get a pretty runny marinade. This is great for roasting and baking.
Let me know if you try the recipe/s, what changes you made and how you use it!
Chermoula – a North African Marinade