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What is Ras el Hanout?
The term “Ras el Hanout” (in Arabic رأس الحانوت) actually means “head of the shop” in Arabic. In culinary terms, it refers to the aromatic spice blend used liberally in North African, and especially Moroccan cooking. It is a much loved spice mix, just like the garam masala is in Indian and Pakistani cooking, and advieh in Persian cooking.
It is easily made at home and no two recipes are going to be the same; some elaborate mixes can have over 20 spices and dried roots in them. I use different ingredients when making it, depending on what I’m cooking.
There are so many spice mixes and spice blends in the region:
Ras El Hanout is also sometimes called Mrouzia spice blend, because it is used extensively in the sweet and savoury lamb tagine. Like some of our lamb tagine recipes here on this site.
In North African souks and shops, ras el hanout is often packed to order, to the customer’s needs. The image below shows a spice seller putting together a ras el hanout blend to the customer’s requirements, in Morocco. I remember her telling him to go easy on the turmeric and rose.
How to use Ras El Hanout?
- As a marinade for meat, in dips and great on flatbreads.
- Also fantastic in deepening the flavour of stews and tagine recipes.
- I also love changing up the plain old couscous with this
- it lifts the ordinary yoghurt to another level, like this one, Za’atar Yoghurt. Flavoured yoghurts are great as a condiment in Middle Eastern and Indian spreads.
More Spice Mixes on LinsFood
Now, shall we get our aprons on?
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Ras El Hanout, a North African Spice Mix
- A good spice or coffee grinder
You can also add:
- chilli powder
- dried edible lavender
- dried lime
- Dry fry the whole spices (not the rose petals) on medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes until fragrant and slightly darker.
- Let them cool to room temperature.
- Place in the grinder and grind to a fine powder.
- Store in a clean jar in a cool place, as you would your other spices.
- It will last for months, although as with all spices, its potency will diminish with time.