Moroccan magic

Chermoula is used both as a marinade and a sauce. Hot and spicy, it is perfect for seafood and poultry dishes.

Moroccan magic

Chemoula seasoned Blue Eye Cod serves 4

Chermoula is a bot, spicy sauce originating in Morocco. The dominant ingredients are garlic, paprika, cumin, chilli and coriander. Saffron, ginger, citrus juice or vinegar and a pinch sugar or honey are often added to lift its flavour.

Used both as marinade and a sauce, it isn’t dissimilar to the fiery harissa paste which is a favourite throughout the Mediterranean-bordering countries of North Africa. Only chermoula is a little more fragrant which makes it perfect for fish and seafood dishes.

I also use it with char-grilled chicken – marinating the chicken pieces first and then serving them with a chermoula sauce or dressing. It is also excellent for seasoning cold and warm vegetable dishes and makes a great salsa – just add chopped onions, tomatoes and lemon juice or vinegar to the chermoula base – that can be served with a wide variety of savoury dishes.


  • 3 tblsp paprika
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground chilli
  • 2 tblsp chopped garlic
  • 4 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small bunch of coriander – stems finely chopped, leaves coarsely torn
  • 1 tsp cracked blacl peppercorns
  • 800g blue eye cod fillet, cut into 8 slices
  • 5 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 medium red capsicum – haled, seeded, cut into 1cm slices
  • 1 medium green capsicum (prepared as above)
  • 2 medium Spanish onions – peeled, halved, sliced
  • 4 large ripe roma tomatoes – blanced, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 12 saffron strands
  • 1 – 1/2 tblsp chopped ginger
  • 2 lemons – juice and grated rind
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 1 cup loosely packed, chopped flat leaf parsley


Mix together paprika, cumin, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, coriander stems and pepper.

Spoon half the chermoula over the sliced fish and mix lightly. Marinate for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute capsicum and onion lightly in half the olive oil with remaining chermoula. After a few minutes, add tomatoes, saffron and ginger;  cook gently for five minutes. Set aside.

In another skillet, fry the fish in the remaining oil on both sides. Return tomato mixture to heat; add lemon juice and rind, white wine, coriander leaves and parsley. Cook just long enough to heat through.

Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar.

Serve fish topped with chermoula sauce and accompanied by steamed rice and blanched, lightly sauteed spinach.


  • Article first published in the Sunday Star Telegraph, 25 March 2001.  To view or download PDF of this feature CLICK THIS LINK —> Morrocan magic