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Friday, August 9, 2013

Chermoula, a Middle Eastern Chimichurri

Chermoula is a North African mix with some similarity to Ras el Hanout. However, I would tend to equate chermoula as used traditionally in North Africa with the Argentine beef accompaniment Chimichurri since I think it is best used as a ‘wet’ mix with lemon juice and fresh parsley and cilantro, much like the Argentine condiment. The aroma from the chermoula is often used to invigorate ‘bland’ fish or other meats and can easily be used as a rub for meat or vegetables, especially cooked slowly on the grill or on the stove top. It could also be used as a very effective marinade with lemon juice or used dry as a rub to bring out the flavor of any meat or fish.

Since the Argentine Chimichurri is generally used as a cold accompaniment to grilled beef in Argentina, I decided that if I used chermoula in a similar way, it would have more effect than just using it as a seasoning in the dish itself. In order to get the full effect of the spice mix, I decided to use fresh parsley, cilantro and olive oil. I also decided I needed an acid-based liquid to bring out the full effect of the spices so I added lemon juice, but no doubt lime or pineapple would work just as well with likely different flavors that would work well work with different foods.

In order to maintain the middle-eastern feel of the mix, I decided to use it as a condiment to a cooked tagine. I prepared the Chermoula by simply mixing the mix with lemon juice and olive oil and whizzing it in a food processor with a good handful of parsley and the same amount of cilantro.

With the chermoula marinating in the fridge to keep it cool, I prepared the tagine using a clay Moroccan tagine with a conical top. First I heated a table spoon of olive oil in the tagine and added a Moroccan harissa seasoning mix to the oil. After heating it for one minute, I added fresh ginger and garlic, mixing it together with the oil and the mix. Then I added onion, chopped, and fried until it is soft but not quite browned. Add one can of garbanzo beans (chick peas), juice an’ all and mix the spices into the beans. Add small zucchini, halved lengthways and halved yellow tomatoes then throw on a handful of pomegranate seeds and pistachios and a surreptitious drop of orange petal water that just ‘happened’ to be in the fridge. Arrange to form a 'pyramid' shape in order to fully utilize the conical shape of the tagine's lid and slow cook for an hour.

Serve over quinoa or couscous.

Add cold chermoula over the dish.


  1. What were the exact measurements for the chermoula mix that you made above -- this looks great and I want to try making it

  2. Comment from Tim:

    Equal amounts of parsley and cilantro - I think I used around a handful - roughly half a cup of both.

    Juice of one lemon, more depending on your taste but for the amount of herbs, that should be enough. Needs to be mixed WELL with the herbs so every bit of 'green' is covered in lemon juice.

    For this amount of herb mix, try 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of chermoula mix. The mix should be put through a mixer to make it fine. Add a little olive oil to ensure it stays moist.I may have used more after tasting since I like it spicy but that should get a nice chemical reaction with the lemon and greens. If it marinates for an hour, it will mix the tastes of the herbs, lemon and spices. I thought adding nuts (walnuts?) to the final product after its been marinading would really enhance it too.