Schug and harissa recipes

Harissa in jars

These are a blast for any chilliholic and will add a new dimension to the seasonings on any table. In the northern hemisphere, now is when we need to preserve green & red chillies. If you have a blender or food processor these couldn’t be easier.

Chillies and tomatoes are arguably two of the most influential culinary exports from South America where they originated. Traders took them to Europe, the middle & far east from the 16th century onwards. Their use is characteristic of many cuisines. Harissa & schug are similar to some of the original salsas & pebre of South America.

Tamsin’s tomatoes on toast with schug

They can be used virtually anywhere in your culinary repertoire. In soups or stews; as a rub on meat, fish & vegetables; spread on bread; as a dip, with hummus or felafel etc; or like a ketchup. On the left, the delicious snack my friend Tamsin made with the Schug I took as a present when we stayed with her & her family. Tamsin’s blog is a cracking read too.

Harissa is a Tunisian/Morrocan red chilli paste seasoned with spices. Some variations include tomatoes too, which round out the flavour.

Schug (zhug  or skhug)
is a Yemeni green chilli paste make with lashings of fresh coriander and seasoned with spices. There is also a red variant.

If you’d like to make these wonderful ingredients, please read on…

Caution: I wore disposable vinyl gloves to prepare the chillies. Chilli oil on sensitive parts of your body hurts. A lot. Chilli oil is not water soluble, it’s fat soluble. If you get chilli on your hands, ‘wash’ your hands in some vegetable oil and then wash them with soap & water.

Spices: You’ll get better flavour from freshly ground spices. For this recipe, I do not dry fry/heat the spices first as this changes their fresh flavour. Grind the spices in a mortar & pestle or use a spice grinder. I used an old pepper mill to grind the spices for these recipes.

Harissa Recipe

Feel free to vary this recipe using your favourite spices. I’ve seen recipes with caraway, mint and/or lemon juice included. Often, the recipes say to make this with re-hydrated, dried red chillies. As I had fresh, I used those. Use the recipe as a starting point and have a play. Obviously, the type of chillies you use will affect the taste and heat. I used chillies that would not keep well enough to dry as they were damaged or ‘on the turn’.

This quantity made enough to fill three 195ml jars with enough room at the top to cover with oil. I suggest making in small jars so you can open as you need them.


75g red chillies, destalked (deseeded if you wish to moderate the heat), roughly chopped
4 large garlic cloves, peeled
75g onion roughly chopped
1tsp cumin seeds, ground
1tsp coriander seeds, ground
1tsp fine sea salt
500g very ripe, fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded or 1 x 400g tin of good quality chopped tomatoes
75g red wine vinegar


Blitz all the ingredients in a blender or food processor until you get a texture you like. Have a (careful) taste and adjust seasoning if you need to.

Pop into a saucepan and bring to a fast simmer. Simmer, stirring frequently until thick. I looked for the free liquid that will rest on the top if you don’t stir to almost disappear. You’ll see when you do it.

Allow to cool a bit and pack in to warm sterilised jars. Leave enough head room so you can then cover the surface with 5mm or so of vegetable or olive oil. If you keep it covered with oil each time you use it & pop it in the fridge,  it’ll easily last 12 months. Keep the unopened jars in a cool dry place.

Schug Recipe

As with the recipe above, feel free to vary this recipe using your favourite spices.

This quantity made enough to fill two 454ml and two 195ml jars (for presents) with enough room at the top to cover with oil.

Yemini Schug in jars

I’ve added some lime juice to my recipe. This is for three reasons. First, I think the lime goes well with the other ingredients – they’re common companions. Second, I hope that the addition of some acid will help preserve the schug. Third, the liquid helps to get the processing of the ingredients going. If you don’t like it, don’t use it – you could also substitute lemon juice, white wine or cider vinegar.


600g fresh green chillies, destalked, roughly chopped
150g fresh coriander, stems and leaves, roughly chopped
1 head of garlic, peeled
Juice of 2-3 limes
1tbsp cumin seeds, ground
1tbsp coriander seeds, ground
1tsp peppercorns, ground
1tsp green cardamom pods, seeds extracted and ground
1tsp fine sea salt


Put the chillies, fresh coriander, garlic & lime juice into a blender or food processor. Whiz up until you have a fine paste.

Schug spices addedAdd the spices and sea salt and process until everything is well blended. Have a (careful) taste and adjust seasoning if you need to.

Pack in to warm sterilised jars. Leave enough head room so you can then cover the surface with 5mm or so of vegetable or olive oil. If you keep it covered with oil each time you use it & pop it in the fridge,  it’ll easily last 12 months. Keep the unopened jars in a cool dry place.

That’s it. They’re both dead simple and taste stunning. Give them a try and let me know how it goes…



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18 responses to “Schug and harissa recipes”

  1. Tonessa West Crowe Avatar
    Tonessa West Crowe

    Love this recipe. As you already know, my passion for Morroca cooking led me to this. I made Mourad Lahlou’s version of this using San Marzano tomatoes. I made a quart of it! 🙂 I also make my own Chermoula sauce. I am keeping (and have already saved) your recipes to my vast amounts of favorite recipes. Can’t wait to try it.

    1. Carl Avatar

      Lots more of these sort of things to come yet Tonessa. Have you made your own preserved lemons yet?

      1. Tonessa West Crowe Avatar

        Yes! I made eight one-quart jars. Four with kosher salt, three with sea salt and one with Meyers lemons preserved with salt and olive oil. When I was at Williams-Sonoma they wanted $14.95 for an 8 oz. jar. I said, “no way” and made my own! I use a lot of preserved lemons. This past weekend I made Al Hamas Hummus soup, lamb tagine with dates, almonds and pistachios, spicy moroccan shrimp with cumin and African chilies, couscous with vegetables (baby eggplant, courgettes, squash, carrots and turnips) layered with thin slices of preserved lemon and topped with a caramelized onion and raisin compote.

  2. Mitchdafish (@mitchdafish) Avatar

    I have just finished making more… I make half-batches which is about right for my processor.

  3. Debs Avatar

    Loving the schug. Adding an amazing edge to loads of different meals.

  4. Mitchdafish (@mitchdafish) Avatar

    Hi Carlio, just popping in to share the shug recipe with friends and family who are all fired up, one taste and they are smitten!

  5. Mitchdafish (@mitchdafish) Avatar

    Ooooh I have made a half quantity of schug, it smells lovely and has a kick like a mule! In four pretty jars, looks fabulous. I used mixed chillies that were on offer at the grocer. Thanks for sharing Carl. 😀

  6. Laura@howtocookgoodfood Avatar

    How fantastic, I love your chilli recipes. As a grower , well my husband is in charge of them actually, there is nothing better than deciding how to use them all. I made a Sriracha type sauce with them and last year made a tomato & chilli jam with them.
    I am in love with chillies and can’t live without them. Your Harissa sounds excellent as does your Schug, I will be trying thanks!

  7. welshhillsagain Avatar

    Damn it, you are making me feel I should have grown chillis this year. Can’t really remember why we abandoned them! Mistake.

    1. Carl Avatar

      I’m sorry 🙁 I can bring you some over if you’d like 🙂

  8. Joanna Avatar

    Schug! Made! I had loads of giant green chillis which I had a vague plan to stuff, batter and fry, but the first one I tried was too hot to envisage eating as a whole veg, yikes! So once more I turn to you for rescue.

    We have just made this and used up my elderly limes in the fruit bowl too. Lovely stuff Carl, just had a little spoonful and it’s fab 🙂 🙂

    PS Am I alone in thinking that coriander whizzed up with lime tastes like coconut? Have you ever noticed that?

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Joanna, I know I’ve done a good one when you make it and like it 🙂 So many thanks for the feedback. It’s a cracking taste I agree. I get coconut smells from parsley & gorse too 😀 Thanks for letting me know how you got on.

  9. marmadukescarlet1 Avatar

    Ha ha, I’m sensitive to chillies too but tend to wrap my hands and arms in plastic bags – though I suspect full body armour might be more appropriate.

    Love the zhug recipe – some Israeli friends of mine say it is really popular there at the falafel joints but that it has caraway seeds in it rather than cardamom. But I think I prefer your cardamom!

    1. Carl Avatar

      Haha, a full HSE risk assessment could be done I suppose 😉

      You are right about the caraway. Most recipes call for that. I’m afraid to confess it’s the one spice that I’m really not very fond of, hence the change to the recipe 🙂 I think your taste is impeccable 😀

  10. Shelagh Seddon Avatar
    Shelagh Seddon

    Hi Carl, these recipes sound lovely. I’ve frozen all my chillies – could I still use them in your recipes. I’ve never heard of schug so it was an interesting read. Many thanks. Shelagh

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Shelagh – thanks so much for your kind comments 🙂 You can use frozen chillies with no problem. When thet’re thawed, just allow them to drain so that you don’t include too much water. Otherwise, you’ll be fine. Let me know how it goes. Carl 😀

  11. kath Avatar

    Hi, I cannot wait to try these!! Thank you for sharing. I love chilli. What types are good to grow here?

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Kath – thanks so much for that 🙂 To be honest all sorts grow here. The main chilli in the schug was rocoto I can send you seed if you want. Otherwise just try what you fancy – we’re still working our way through loads of varieties. For best results you need to start seeds early on a propagator or in an airing cupboard and most will appreciate a polytunnel/greenhouse/sunny conservatory to grow in. We’ce given ours some protection with bubblewrap in the polytunnel to see if we can get the last ones to ripen. The schug was made because I had so many green chillies after pruning the rocoto down to be able to put the protection in.

      Let me know how you get on 🙂