Tabil (in Arabic تابل) is a favourite spice mix or blend from Tunisia and Algeria. Unlike the the “busier” Ras El Hanout, Tabil is very, very basic, containing only coriander, caraway and chilli flakes in its simplest form. In Tunisia, I’ve had mixes that have had garlic, onions and/or cumin added to it. That’s it. Start adding anything else, and it’s no longer Tabil! Its predominant flavour should be that of coriander, the clue is in the name: Tabil means coriander in Tunisian Arabic (Darija).
My first introduction to Tabil was seeing rows of garlic and onions drying in the sun, along with the coriander, caraway and some dried chillies. I remember being fascinated by the display and like a child, followed the scent and came across this old lady making Tabil from scratch, using a grinding wheel. No frying pan or spice mill in sight! Priceless experience for a born and raised city girl!
How to use Tabil?
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 and it lifts the ordinary yoghurt to another level, like this one, Za’atar Yoghurt. Flavoured yoghurts are great aa a condiment in Middle Eastern and Indian spreads.
For more spice mixes, take a look at the Ingredients Page. Or, to whet your appetites:
- 3 Tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 Tbsp caraway seeds
- 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- Dry fry the coriander, caraway and cumin seeds in a frying pan over medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes until fragrant.
- Leave to cool completely, then place in a spice mill with the chilli flakes and blitz to a smooth powder.
- Store in an airtight jar and keep with the rest of your spices.