How to make ras-el-hanout
There is no one recipe for ras-el-hanout, a lovely pungent spice mix, packed with strong Indian aromas of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger combined with local African roots and the delicate, perfumed notes of rosebuds. Every family has its favorite blend. Some of the spices are available only in the Maghreb, so if your tagine recipe calls for this flavoring your easiest solution is to select one of the ready-prepared spice mixes available in Middle Eastern and African stores.
Ras el Hanout, a phrase that translates to "head of the shop" in Arabic, is a captivating Moroccan spice blend that has been enchanting palates for centuries. Renowned for its aromatic complexity and rich flavor profile, Ras el Hanout is a cornerstone of Moroccan cuisine, adding depth and warmth to a variety of dishes. In this article, we delve into the origins, composition, and culinary uses of this extraordinary spice blend.
Origins and History:
Ras el Hanout's origins can be traced back to the bustling spice markets of Morocco. As the name suggests, the blend is often considered a showcase of the best spices a merchant has to offer. Historically, each spice merchant would have their own unique Ras el Hanout recipe, passed down through generations, creating a distinct blend that reflected the family's culinary heritage.
Ras el Hanout's versatility shines in the kitchen, as it complements a wide range of dishes. Here are some popular applications:
Moroccan Tagines: i is a key ingredient in traditional Moroccan tagines, enhancing the slow-cooked stews with its aromatic and robust flavor.
Grilled Meats: It makes an excellent rub for grilled meats, imparting a fragrant and spiced crust.
Couscous and Rice: A sprinkle of Ras el Hanout can elevate the flavor of couscous, rice, or pilaf dishes.
Vegetarian Dishes: It's a wonderful addition to vegetarian dishes, such as roasted vegetables or chickpea stews, providing depth and complexity.
Marinades and Sauces: Ras el Hanout can be incorporated into marinades and sauces, infusing dishes with its unique blend of spices.
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 1 teaspoon aniseeds
- 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
- 1 teaspoon allspice berries
- 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 2 pieces mace
- 2 pieces of cinnamon bark
- 2 teaspoons dried mint
- 1 dried red chilli
- 1 teaspoon dried lavender
- 6 dried rosebuds, broken up
Makes about 4–5 tablespoons
- Using a mortar and pestle, or an electric blender, grind together all the spices to form a coarse powder.
- Stir in the lavender and rose petals and tip the mixture into an airtight container.
- You can store this spice mix for up to 6 months if you keep it in a cool cupboard and well away from direct sunlight.
Ras el Hanout is a testament to the artistry and creativity of Moroccan spice merchants. Its ability to add depth, warmth, and complexity to a wide array of dishes has made it a beloved and essential component in kitchens around the world. Whether you're a culinary enthusiast or a seasoned chef, exploring the enchanting world of Ras el Hanout is a journey well worth taking, as it opens doors to a realm of flavors that captivate the senses and celebrate the rich culinary heritage of Morocco.