What is Ras el Hanout? It's an authentic Moroccan spice blend that is rich and aromatic to say the least. Its name in Arabic translates to top of the shop. This means that the quality of the spices that go into this amazing blend are "top notch" for lack of a better term.
According to my Middle Eastern friends, spices are normally purchased in the market. As one would expect everyone has their favorite spice vendor.
My sisters were recently in Istanbul and sent me some fabulous pictures of their adventures in the market. They also bought me some wonderful saffron. I was fascinated by how incredibly beautiful and exotic everything looked. One of these days... Turkey is definitely on my bucket list.
A perfect addition to your arsenal of seasonings.
A ras al hanout recipe is definitely the spice blend to have for any number of tagine dishes whether meat or vegetarian. Remember that the word tagine is used interchangeably for the cooking vessel as well as the finished dish. Use this spice blend also on soups, grilled meats, vegetables, and on special relishes that can be served with couscous.
Now, here is an interesting fact:
The number spices used to make an authentic Moroccan spice blend varies from person to person. For my recipe, I used a total of 12, but I read that there can be as many as 50-100! It all depends on taste buds, and desired nuances which can be spicy, savory, or even floral. For my blend I decided to experiment a bit and added some crushed lavender which gave my spice blend a subtle floral hint.
Get your spices ready
I started with cardamom pods and whole cloves which I placed in an old coffee grinder I keep around just for the purpose of grinding spices. If you want to go old school, you can use a manual spice grinder, or even a mortar and pestle.
For the remaining spices I went on the recommendation of a Moroccan Fulbright student. One thing he told me is that there are some spices/ingredients which we can't get here because they are native to Morocco and other Mediterranean regions. One of these ingredients is chufa, the tuber of a plant that grows in Southern Europe, North Africa, and the island of Madagascar.
All in all, ras el hanout, is what gives Moroccan food its characteristic flavor. Making your own spice blend can be very rewarding Ever since I first made my own chili powder a number of years ago, I've been fascinated with making my own spice blends.
What are the ras al hanout uses? Add it to marinades, just mix with olive oil and pour over beef or chicken. You can also use it as a dry rub. For example, just pat it over a roaster chicken and bake it. It's delicious! Sprinkle over pita bread for a savory snack as well. The possibilities are endless.
Want more great Moroccan recipes? Take a look at these:
Moroccan saffron chicken: The delicate taste of saffron shines through.
Moroccan country bread: Khobz Maghribi is a perfect accompaniment to any Moroccan dish. It's great by itself also, and not difficult to make.
Moroccan lamb tagine with apricots is a favorite at my house. A perfect blend of spices with a sweet touch.
If you love soups, then Moroccan Harira: Chickpea and Lentil soup is perfect for you. Hearty and delicious.
Authentic Moroccan Spice Blend: Ras El Hanout
To give any Moroccan dish and authentic flavor, you need to try this authentic Moroccan spice blend. It's easy to make and gives any recipe a fabulous flavor.
Place cardamom pods and whole cloves, in a spice grinder, and grind to a powder. Place in a container.
Add in the rest of the ingredients to the cardamom mix, and blend well. Cover container tightly, and keep away from light. It should keep fresh for about 6 months.