Ras El Hanout (North African Spices)

August 11, 2009

Ras El Hanout (رأس الحانوت‎), which means “head of the shop” in Arabic, is a complex and distinctive mixture of multiple spices and herbs. The recipes vary according to the individual spice blender, but it remains basic to the cooking of North Africa, commonly used with meat, game, poultry and couscous. Ras el Hanout can be purchased commercially at specialty stores, but also can be made at home depending on spice availability. This recipe does not include the highly exotic, nearly impossible to obtain, ingredients such as ash berries, belladonna leaves, cantharides, orrisroot, galingale, and monk’s pepper.

A pantry must.

RAS EL HANOUT

1 T cumin seeds
1 T coriander seeds
1 T allspice berries
1 T cardamom seeds (removed from pods)
1 t anise seed

1 T black peppercorns
1/2 T white peppercorns
6 whole cloves
1 T ground ginger
I T turmeric
1/2 T sea salt
3/4 T ground cinnamon
1/2 T cayenne pepper
1/2 T grated nutmeg
1 t dried lavender

Heat the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, allspice berries, cardamom seeds, and anise seeds in a heavy skillet. Dry sauté them until aromatic, about a minute or so. Do not brown or burn. Mix together with the remaining ingredients in a bowl, then transfer into a food processor, spice mill or mortar and pestle and process until finely ground. Take care with the food processor or spice mill to grind in pulses, so the rapidly moving blade does not burn the mixture during the process.

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One Response to “Ras El Hanout (North African Spices)”

  1. thebiggayal Says:

    One of my favourite spice blends, though it really is very variable as you state. I’m interested in the inclusion of Lavender as I have not seen that before. Usually it has rose petals, which I guess is just another floral scent.

    If anyone reading this is in the UK, Tesco stock a Ras El Hanout spice mix in their Finest range which is very good. I always have some in the pantry and it can liven up all manner of meats, fish and vegetables. It is especially good with Lamb but also goes well with chicken and even Salmon.


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