If there is one Moroccan marinade recipe to master, charmoula is the one! It’s very simple and also very versatile. Once you get the basics and learn how the spices taste together you can adjust and really play with the recipe to make it your own.
What is charmoula?
Simply put it’s a spice marinade that also includes some fresh ingredients like parsley, cilantro, garlic, onions, and sometimes other pickled vegetables. Olive oil is used to bring all of the flavors together and it is then applied to whatever is being prepared.
You may also see it written as chermoula – one letter difference but the same thing.
Where does charmoula come from?
There are a lot of different varieties that you will find across North Africa. No two countries or regions for that matter make their charmoula exactly the same. The recipe also can change based on the meat or vegetable that it is being used on.
Is charmoula spicy?
No. In most cases it is not hot as there is very little pepper. If you’d like to make it spicy, you certainly can however the flavor it imparts is based on mixing a variety of different spices to build a flavor not on heat. If you do decide to go a spicier route just note you may drown out some of the other flavors.
A simple recipe for Moroccan charmoula marinade. Ideal for chicken, fish or even a vegetable marinade.
- 2 tbsp each of paprika, cumin, salt, finely chopped cilantro
- 1 Tbsp chopped garlic
- 1/8 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 tbsp each of turmeric, white pepper, hot paprika or chili powder
- 1 tsp ras al hanout
- 1/4 c olive oil
- 1/2-3/4 c water
Mix until the consistency is thin enough to coat, yet think enough to stick to your meat. This marinade is used on fish quite often, but can also be used with chicken.
An alternate way to make this is using powdered onions and garlic. I use the powdered versions when I plan to take the meat from the marinade and then fry it.
If you don't have ras al hanout on hand and don't want to buy it you can always blend your own with this ras al hanout recipe.