Easy dinner recipes: Charmoula, a simple herb blend, works well as dip, sauce and more


Ever heard of charmoula? It’s a North African blend of fresh herbs and spices that typically includes garlic, lemon juice, parsley, cilantro, salt, pepper and oil. The blend comes together in minutes, and lasts up to a week in the fridge.

And it’s a favorite go-to blend whether I’m looking for a simple dinner or an easy entertaining dish, because it can be used in so many ways.

The recipe I use is pretty basic: Grind together garlic, ginger, parsley, cilantro and lemon to a paste, then mix in ground cumin, bay leaf, saffron, cayenne pepper and Spanish paprika.


QUICK & EASY: Terrific recipes in under an hour

The paste is then mixed with olive oil. Depending on how much oil I add, the charmoula can be used for everything from a quick marinade for fish or chicken to a finishing sauce for meats or vegetables. It even works well as a dip for bread.

You can find my recipe for charmoula below. I also include a recipe for shrimp skewers with charmoula. Marinate jumbo shrimp in the blend to infuse them with flavor (the recipe calls for a couple of hours marinating time, but the flavor will infuse in as little as 30 minutes). Skewer the shrimp and grill them a couple of minutes on each side, and you’re good to go. Serve the rest of the charmoula table-side for extra flavor

And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at

RECIPES: 99 easy dinner ideas in about an hour or less

Total time: 20 minutes

Servings: Makes scant 1 cup

Note: Store the charmoula for up to 1 week, refrigerated, in an airtight jar or plastic bag.
4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons sweet Spanish paprika

Pinch cayenne powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 dried bay leaf, crumbled

Pinch saffron

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Using a mortar and pestle, or in the bowl of a food processor, grind the garlic and ginger to a paste. Add the chopped parsley, cilantro and lemon zest and coarsely mash. Stir in the lemon juice. Stir in the paprika, cayenne, cumin, bay leaf and saffron and grind to incorporate.

2. Slowly pour in the olive oil while blending to form an emulsion, then stir in the salt. Adjust the seasoning as necessary, then cover and refrigerate at least 1 day before using.

Each tablespoon: 64 calories; 0 protein; 1 gram carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 7 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 38 mg. sodium.
Total time: 15 minutes, plus marinating time

Servings: 2 to 4

Note: This recipe calls for bamboo skewers.

1 pound cleaned, tail-on jumbo shrimp (12 to 16)

Charmoula (see recipe), divided

1 large lemon, sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch slices

Oil for the grill

1. Combine the shrimp and one-third cup charmoula in a large nonreactive bowl or resealable plastic bag and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Ten minutes before removing the shrimp from the refrigerator, soak the bamboo skewers in water to prevent the wood from burning.

2. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and thread with the lemon slices onto the prepared bamboo skewers.

3. Heat the grill over medium-high heat. When the grill is hot, oil the rack and place the skewers on top. Grill the skewers until the shrimp are puffy, pink and opaque, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve immediately with the remaining charmoula sauce.

Each of 4 servings: 172 calories; 18 grams protein; 2 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 5 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 168 mg. cholesterol; 218 mg. sodium.



99 easy dinner recipe ideas

Even more: 99 additional easy dinner recipes

Easy dinner recipes: Chicken and more chicken