Mint Zhoug
About 1 1/2 cups
Note that I haven’t tried this with other herbs but if you want to do so, you’ll likely use less olive oil. Fresh mint isn’t as “juicy” or humid as softer herbs. Cumin and cardamom seem to be constant spices used in zhoug but I’ve seen recipes that call for black pepper, coriander seed, and even caraway. So feel free to vary them to what you have or your tastes. Even if using fresh mint, I start with a smaller amount, as indicated by the recipe in Step #s, then add more as needed, until you get the spoonable consistency I did, as shown in the photos in the post. If you want the sauce to be hotter, you could add the seeds from the jalapeños. If unavailable, another chili pepper would work, but you’d want to adjust the quantity of them for spiciness and heat, depending on the hotness of the peppers. Lastly, if you don’t have a food processor you could make this in blender or mortar and pestle. This recipe makes quite a bit, but it can be easily cut in half.
4 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 jalapeño peppers, stems and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or flaky sea salt
5-6 cups (80-100g) loosely packed fresh mint leaves
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more, if necessary
2 tablespoons water
1. Put the garlic, jalapeños, cumin, cardamom, and salt in a food processor. Pulse 3-4 times to get everything well-combined.
2. Coarsely chop the mint leaves and add about a third of them to the food processor along with 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. Pulse a few times. Lift the lid, then scrape the sides of the food processor bowl to incorporate any mint leaves sticking to it, then add the remaining mint leaves and the water. (If you want to sauce to be extra-rich, you could replace the 2 tablespoons of water with olive oil.)
3. Pulse the food processor for a few seconds at a time, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl again. Continue to pulse and process, adding additional olive oil, until you reach the desired consistency. The zhoug should be spoonable, the consistency of pesto. Taste, and season with additional salt or spices.

Storage: Fresh mint tends to discolor upon sitting and the top will darken when left to sit for a while. To mitigate that, store the zhoug in a narrow jar, with as little of the surface area exposed as possible, in the refrigerator. (The top will still darken but it’s fine to eat and you can just give it a stir before serving.) You can also smooth the top and pour a layer of olive oil on it, or press a piece of food-safe wrap against the surface to prevent it from browning. It’ll keep in the refrigerator for about a week.