Ras el Hanout
Ras el hanout is a legendary Moroccan spice blend of “top shelf” spices. The phrase translates literally as “head of shop” and was a blend of the best spices a North African spice dealer had to offer.Recipes vary wildly—some have 50 or so different ingredients! It is widely available in grocery store spice sections. When I make my own version of this exotic spice blend, I use what I have on hand and know to be available to Moroccan cooks based on reading and research. (Disclaimer: I have never been to Morocco. My closest physical proximity was Senegal, but Moroccan recipes call for ingredients from the Middle and the Far East, and I have lived and worked in Saudi Arabia.) The following ras el hanout recipe is essentially Americanized in that these are ingredients found in typical American pantries. Other ingredients found in ras el hanout recipes include exotic, or harder-to-find spices such as star anise, sumac, saffron and cardamom. The following recipe is a mix of spices I have used and liked in Moroccan and other North African dishes I have made. The amounts of each ingredient can be adjusted to suit your taste. They can also be adjusted to better suit the dish being prepared. This recipe is a good match for chicken; a lamb dish might require more cumin or paprika. I often make ras el hanout (and other homemade spice blends without salt so I can adjust salt levels in the final recipe. I usually indicate with or without salt on the container to keep track.Moroccan dishes are not necessarily hot, but usually include paprika for its combination of heat-and-sweet. You can heat up this mix by adding more paprika or even some ground cayenne pepper. Otherwise, another popular Moroccan spice blend called harissa can turn up the temperature. Harissa is usually found as a condiment paste in grocery stores.
Servings 7.5 tsp
- 1 tsp cumin ground
- 1 tsp ginger ground
- 1 tsp paprika Spanish or smoked
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 1/2 tsp turmeric ground
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon ground
- 1/2 tsp coriander seeds ground
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg grated
- 1/2 tsp allspice ground
- 1/4 tsp cloves ground
- Stir or whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container at cool room temperature. Can keep for a month or more.
Grind or crush any whole seed ingredients such as cumin seeds, cloves, coriander etc. with a spice mill, mortar and pestle, a rolling pin or the flat side of a meat hammer. (Caution: Wood rolling pins and wood cutting surfaces may get imprinted by hard seeds!)