It's a marinade, a dip, a sauce, a dressing, a spread. It's chermoula!
Algerian chermoula is made from four basic components: cilantro or flat leaf parsley, olive oil, an acid (lemon juice or vinegar), and aromatics (garlic, onions, shallots, leeks, or ramps). Since spices and peppers are optional, I won't include them as a basic component.
There are raw and cooked versions of chermoula. The consistency can be a smooth emulsion, coarsely chopped or in between. It can be used as marinade, relish, dressing, basic cooking sauce, or a dip.
Save yourself the time of pounding all the ingredients in a mortar and pestle to form an emulsion chermoula by using a blender. This version can be used as a marinade for chicken and seafood or as a dressing for salads or a dip for breads and vegetables. For the Los Angeles Times article "Tagine Dreams" I added a little blender chermoula to my chicken brik, the same filling minus the egg also works with boureks which are basically Algerian spring rolls. Shrimp, scallops or tuna are good substitutes for chicken. Filo pastry or spring roll wrappers can be substituted for warka pastry leaves.
Total time: 5 minutes
Servings: Makes 1 1/4 cups
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 pinch sweet paprika
1 pinch cayenne
3/4 cup cilantro leaves, lightly packed
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, lightly packed
1/3 teaspoon ras el hanout, optional (see recipe)
Salt to taste Place the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, paprika, cayenne, cilantro, parsley and optional ras el hanout in a food processor. Puree until smooth and emulsified. Season to taste with salt.
This is a more common finely chopped chermoula. I added half a serrano pepper for some heat. The consistency for a chopped chermoula varies widely. It can be coarse or like a pesto. I added lemon zest also, depending on the application a little bit of preserved lemon can be a delicious addition. This version can be used in all the typical ways. It's also added to tagines during the last 5-10 minutes of cooking to freshen up slow cooked flavors.