Just when we thought we knew everything there was to know about the vegan food movement, we come across this great read: Afro-Vegan. A compilation of plant-based dishes by author Bryant Terry, Afro-Vegan redefines what the African, Caribbean and Southern cuisines have to offer to us health-minded folk. And with summer shine on our minds, and weekend BBQ cookouts up ahead (hello, Father’s Day!), we thought we’d share these two ingenious sauces from within the book. Both z’atar and chermoula are everything we’re craving to spice up our summer meals. Get the gist below from Chef Terry, then get to spicing up your life! 

Chermoula –  An herb-filled sauce used in Algerian, Moroccan, and Tunisian cooking, often serves as a marinade for fish and other meats. I thought it would make a tasty sauce in which to bake tempeh, and it does not disappoint. You could also try it on tofu or vegetables.

Za’atar – An old-world spice blend that is popular throughout the Middle East. Its usage dates back to ancient Egyptian and Levantine cultures. Typically, the blend includes toasted sesame seeds, thyme, sumac, oregano, marjoram, and salt. There are many variations and recipes, and blends can differ from region to region or even family to family. Thyme, one of the main ingredients, is often used medicinally. It’s loaded with antioxidants and is a natural anti-inflammatory and antiseptic.

Yields about 1/3 cup


3 heaping Tbsp dried thyme
2 heaping Tbsp dried oregano
scant 1 Tbsp ground sumac
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted 
1 heaping Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
freshly ground black pepper


Put the thyme, oregano, sumac and cumin seeds in a mortar or spice grinder and grind into a fine powder. Add the sesame seeds and a few grinds of black pepper and stir well to combine. Transfer to a jar and seal tightly. Stored at room temperature, it will keep for six months.

Yields about 3 cups


3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tsp coarse sea salt
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1⁄2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1⁄2 tsp paprika
1⁄4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1⁄8 tsp cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
2 Tbsp water
1⁄4 tsp seeded habanero chile, minced
pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
1-1⁄2 cups packed cilantro, minced
1⁄2 cup packed flat-leaf parsley, minced


Warm the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and salt and sauté until the onion is soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, paprika, black pepper and cayenne and sauté until fragrant, for 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Add the lemon juice, orange juice, water, habanero and saffron and mix until well combined. Stir in the cilantro and parsley.

Taste and season with more salt if desired. Use immediately or store in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Reprinted with permission from Afro-Vegan by Bryant Terry, copyright (c) 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Photography (c) 2014 by Paige Green

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