1. Add a pinch of cilantro and a pinch of salt to the mortar. Using a stirring motion, use the pestle to grind the cilantro into a paste. Add more cilantro and grind. Continue this process until all the cilantro is used. Use a spatula to transfer the cilantro paste into a bowl. 00:40
2. Place a clove of garlic into the mortar. Add a pinch of salt and the toasted cumin. Use the pestle to grind the mixture into a smooth paste. Transfer the paste into the bowl with the cilantro. 02:26
3. While stirring with the spatula, slowly drizzle 1/2 cup of olive oil into the cilantro mixture. Add 1/2 teaspoon of cider vinegar or lemon juice. Stir to combine. Use as desired. 04:38
What You'll Need
- Mortar and pestle
- Mixing bowl
- Cilantro, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
- Garlic (1 clove)
- Cumin seeds, toasted (1/2 teaspoon)
- Olive oil (1/2 cup)
- Cider vinegar or lemon juice (1/2 teaspoon)
- Salt to taste
A mortar is a bowl, typically made of hard wood, ceramic, or stone. A pestle is a heavy club-shaped object, the end of which is used for crushing and grinding. Grinding herbs or spices in a mortar is a good way to get the freshest possible flavor, as the grinding action gently releases the natural oils in herbs and toasted whole spices, instead of over processing them in an electric chopper.
To learn more about the history of, and techniques for using a mortar and pestle, visit Chef Corina’s “An Introduction to a Mortar and Pestle” tutorial located at the bottom of the page.
Chef Corina mentions that this recipe can also be prepared in a food processor, though the texture of the sauce will not be as smooth.
For a recipe that uses chermoula, visit Chef Corina’s “Flattened Pan-Roasted chicken With Spicy Peppers and Chermoula” tutorial located at the bottom of the page.